Flexible working has been a hot topic for the last few months in the world of employment in the response to the coronavirus pandemic. But how could this change the future landscape of work for you? This blog aims to clear up the confusion around what flexible working is, how it can be valuable for you, and what you might expect in a flexible role.

For starters then, what is flexible working?

Flexible working (also known as agile working) is a hugely broad term that simply means any pattern of work that is different from the traditional office-based ‘working 9 to 5’, in the wise words of Dolly Parton. Flexible working isn’t new, but since the pandemic, flexible working roles have been on the rise.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, some companies preferred these flexible working practices which enabled employees to choose where and when to work based on what suited their own needs. Yet, to many businesses, flexible and remote working was a strange concept.

But why is this all happening?

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant businesses must adapt to social distancing measures. Since the Government demands that everyone who can work from home should, there has been a great deal of debate on the future landscape of work.

Many companies are now re-thinking their practices towards the long-term adoption of agile working and we’re here to break down how this could impact you in your future career.

What sort of flexible working could I do?

There are plenty of flexible working options out there, and many are becoming increasingly common, for instance:

  • Hybrid working – you might work full-time but only come into the office a few times a week while working remotely for the rest.
  • Remote working – where you work entirely outside of the office. You can live and work from anywhere.
  • Job sharing – two part-time workers may share the same full-time role.
  • Customised working hours – workers choose their hours, though sometimes you may be given guidance hours (i.e., you must work between 6 am and 11 pm).
  • Flexi-time – you may have core hours, for instance between 11 am and 3 pm, and outside of these you can choose when to work.
  • Depending on which apprenticeship (or job role in general) you choose some of these may be more widespread than others.

    What advantages can flexible working have for me?

    Where applied, many organisations and their workers have embraced the move to flexible or home working. We all love being able to drink copious mugs of tea without judgement after all.

    Here are some reasons why employees embraced the move to flexible working:

  • A comfier workspace – you no longer have to worry about those office chairs with the too-squeaky wheel; decorate your workspace to your heart’s content!
  • No transportation hassle – when your only commute is from the bed to desk-chair this cuts down on the time you spend getting to work. So much more time for activities.
  • Bigger earnings – with no commuting comes less money spent on transportation and the meal deals that get you through the workday.
  • Capacity for travel – when you’re not confined to the office, you can take your work anywhere – as long as there’s internet of course.
  • Increased productivity – without the distractions of the workplace and your friendly colleagues who love a chat, employees can often be more productive.
  • More inclusivity – working from home can offer greater accessibility if you’re someone who might find traditional working patterns a challenge.
  • So what disadvantages are there?

    However, for some working from home may not fit their working preferences:

  • Isolation from colleagues – online meetings aren’t always the same as taking a quick tea and biscuit break together or throwing out a few ideas to your workmate a few desks over.
  • Separating home and work – when you live and work in the same space this can be hard to separate fully, leading some to feel like they may have to work outside their allotted hours.
  • Lack of resources – working from home means you might not have the right equipment or software that you would at work.
  • Concerns over misuse of company time – without supervision it may be easy to get distracted and companies worry they aren’t getting the most out of their employees!
  • Who is offering flexible working?

    There are loads of organisations, both big and small, who’ve been practicing agile working for some time and the number of businesses turning to flexible work only continues to expand. PwC’s recent survey even found that 69% of the companies asked expected around two-thirds of their workforce to work from home at least once a week in the future.

    Recently, Unilever has announced that their employees will never return to the office for a five-day week. Instead, they’re adopting a hybrid form of work. Similarly, many other organisations, such as Facebook, are adopting remote hiring and a blended attitude to work. Clearly agile working is here to stay even after the pandemic eases.

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