Friday 7th June 2024
Benefits of flexible working

Flexible working is a continuously growing trend, with an increasing number of individuals in the UK embracing work arrangements that offer flexibility. From April 2024, UK employees have the legal right to request flexible working arrangements under the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act. This rising trend was largely influenced by the Coronavirus pandemic, which compelled numerous individuals to work remotely from their homes.  

Flexible working policies not only empower employees to choose how they work best but also encourages employers to embrace “a shift in workplace dynamics that can lead to increased employee engagement, retention and a wider talent pooler talent pool”, says Elizabeth Willetts, founder and director of Investing in Women, a flexible jobs platform.  

Enforcing this kind of policy has multiple benefits and demonstrates a progressive operational model in businesses. A model that puts the wellbeing of employees first.   

What’s flexible working? 

Flexible working is a collaborative agreement between employers and employees that grants workers the ability to decide on their own where, when, and how they carry out their work. Various forms of flexible working exist, including: 

  • Part-time working: This is when an employee’s working hours are anything less than the company’s standard full-time contract. 
  • Job shares: When two or more people share a role. 
  • Term-time working: Great for parents, this allows employees to take paid or unpaid leave during school holidays. 
  • Flexitime: This allows a degree of flexibility as to when staff start and finish their working day. For example, they could choose to work 8-4, or 10-6 instead of the standard 9-5. 
  • Compressed hours: When someone works full-time hours over a shorter period, for example doing four longer days to make a four-day week. 
  • Remote working: Where staff work from home, or from a different workplace like a coffee shop, or even from a holiday home. 

As flexible working becomes the norm, Willrett emphasizes the need for businesses to redesign workplaces to cater to flexible work schedules and the importance of “fostering a culture where output and results are valued over traditional working hours.”  


Benefits of flexible working 

As the name implies, flexible working allows employees a much greater degree of flexibility over their working hours and location. There are several potential benefits for both employers and staff.  

A greater work-life balance 

The ability to determine when and where to work greatly contributes to employees’ work-life balance. By getting rid of long commutes, it promotes higher job contentment as people can use that time for personal pursuits such as working out or bonding with family and friends. Parents and caregivers especially benefit from this arrangement as it facilitates better coordination with school drop-offs, pick-ups, and other responsibilities like medical appointments. 

Flexible office space 

By empowering your people to work from anywhere, you can unlock new ways of working and increase productivity, improve employee satisfaction, and save office costs. 

Advantages of flexible working 

Flexible working provides employees with enhanced autonomy over their working hours and location. This arrangement offers numerous potential benefits for both employers and staff, including: 

  • Improved work-life balance: The ability to determine when and where to work greatly contributes to employees’ work-life balance. Flexible hours and compressed workweeks allow employees to structure their workday around personal commitments. This could mean attending doctor appointments, school events, or simply running errands without having to take time off work. Parents and caregivers especially benefit from this arrangement as it facilitates better coordination with school drop-offs, pick-ups, and other responsibilities like medical appointments. Let’s not forget the joy of missing rush hour. 
  • Increased productivity and motivation: Flexible working arrangements can boost employee productivity and motivation. By having the freedom to choose optimal working hours and a conducive environment, individuals can tailor their work schedule to align with their peak productivity levels. This results in more focused and efficient work, leading to enhanced overall performance. 
  • Reduced stress and improved mental well-being: The flexibility associated with flexible working can help reduce stress levels and promote better mental well-being. Employees experience reduced pressure from rigid schedules and the ability to create a work environment that suits their needs and preferences. This can contribute to higher job satisfaction and a healthier work-life integration. 
  • Enhanced recruitment and retention: Offering flexible working options can be an attractive factor for prospective employees and a valuable tool for retaining talented staff. It showcases a commitment to work-life balance and supports diverse needs, making the organization more appealing to a broader range of individuals. This can result in a competitive advantage in the job market and foster long-term employee loyalty. 
  • Cost savings and environmental benefits: Flexible working arrangements can lead to cost savings for both employers and employees. With reduced office space and real-estate requirements, companies can optimize their resources and potentially save on overhead expenses. Additionally, employees can save on commuting costs and reduce their carbon footprint by minimizing travel. 

Different types of places you can work could include: 

  • Home office 
  • Main office or headquarters 
  • Training office 
  • Client site or customer office 
  • Local site or regional office 
  • Mobile site, such as a café, park or any non-fixed location 


How flexible working policies create a more inclusive and productive work environment  

Integrating flexible work policies are a win-win for organizations. They accommodate diverse needs and foster a more productive work environment for employees and employers alike. 

Reduced absenteeism and presenteeism 

Flexible working can reduce absence rates as it can allow employees to better balance their workload with disabilities, mental health, and long-term health conditions. It can also reduce incidences of presenteeism, where employees show up to work (because they feel like they have to) but aren’t fully focused on the job.  

Better accessibility 

Working from home, working fewer hours, or utilizing flextime can be hugely beneficial for employees with disabilities and long-term health conditions. 

More choice for hiring managers 

If an employer introduces flexible working practices, particularly remote working, they have access to a much wider talent pool. They can hire the very best employees for each role regardless of location. 


How can employees ask for flexible working? 

In the UK, all employees have a legal right to request flexible working, although they must have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks to be eligible. 

Employees must make a written ‘statutory application’ for flexible working and details of what they’re requesting, whether that’s part-time hours, flexitime, or compressed hours. 

Employers must respond within three months, and if they decline the request, they must give the reasons for doing so. 

Creating flexible working spaces 

For employers looking to create a flexible working environment, it’s important to have the right technology in place to get the best out of their employees. Find out more about how to optimize the employee experience with workplace solutions geared towards flexible and hybrid work models. 


Research report: Attitudes to Hybrid Working.

Attitudes to Hybrid Working Report

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