What is flexible working and is it right for me?
17th Dec 2019
Most of us have heard the term "flexible working" recently, with many companies talking about giving employees the option to "work flexibly" and the government focusing its attention on making work more accessible for everyone.
But what actually is flexible working?
There are so many different definitions of flexible working. In the UK, the government describes it as “a way of working that suits an employee’s needs, for example having flexible start and finish times, or working from home” and we think that this definition sums it up pretty well, but it makes it seem that only people who have specific needs can work flexibly.
Here at Flexa, we think that flexible working can be for everyone.
So we spent a while trying to come up with an easy to understand, all-encompassing definition of what we think flexible work is, in relation to the trends that we see in the world of work in the UK.
Our definition of flexible work is: any full-time role which does not require you to be in the office every day, but allows you to work from home (or another location) for at least one day per week or work flexible hours.
(Although part-time, freelance, and remote jobs are also flexible, they are flexible by nature, rather than by design so we haven't chosen to focus on them here. There are also lots of great freelance job websites already up and running!)
Why has flexible working grown so quickly in recent years?
The traditional office job has historically been pretty rigid – coming in around 8 or 9, and leaving at 5 or 6 (and many industries work far longer hours than that!). However, there has been a realisation over the past few years that this really doesn’t work for everyone. Our mental health has suffered, gender equality still isn't where it should be, we're stressed and tired, and spending more and more time commuting.
We have seen an increasing number of companies shift towards a more adaptable way of working full-time role, by offering flexible locations and flexible hours to everybody. By offering people more flexibility in the way that they work, we spend less time on stressful commutes and can fit in other commitments around our work that make us happier, more balanced, and more productive employees. The benefits of flexible working are having a huge positive impact on the workforce.
We're definitely not saying that flexible working is for everyone, or suitable for every job (some jobs require physical presence every day). Some people love the routine, structure, and social environment that coming into the office every day provides, and we think that's great - everyone should be able to work in the way that works for them.
Does it work for employers too?
Flexible working can help us to find more balance in our lives, and studies have shown that as well as improving our mental health, increasing our free time, and making you feel more valued as an employee, flexible working has material benefits for employers.
Employee productivity increases, staff retention rates increase, and employee satisfaction grows too. In addition, variable costs (e.g. office space) can substantially decrease over time.