Flexible Working – The Basics

The new normal. Post-covid ways of working. Remote first employees.

The truth is, there is no “new normal”. Our working lives have changed and evolved for as long as people have been working. Around a century ago, we ushered in an era of structure. Say hello to the 9-5 grind and the 40-hour work week!

Right now there’s a misconception that the pandemic completely revolutionised the way everyone works – but the reality is that millions of people were already working flexibly. The most forward-thinking employers were already trusting their people to find work patterns that suit them and their employer long before Covid forced everyone’s hands.

The challenge we’re facing now is resisting the urge to go ‘back to normal.’

Truly flexible working is a strong tool you can use to find and keep great talent.

We’ve seen the benefits play out in real-time; flexible working boosts productivity, is great for work-life balance, and when done well, can help foster a feeling of trust between you and your teams.

So, what is flexible working?

Nope, we don’t mean working while practising the splits. There are a few ways you can do it but at its core, it’s a flexible approach to how, when and where an employee does their work. When looking to develop your flexible working policies you should consider the most common types of flexible working;

Job sharing: where two people do one job and split the hours.

Working from home: where your employees can carry out some of all of their work from home (or anywhere else that isn’t ‘the office’ for that matter)

Part-time: Working fewer than full-time hours, usually by working fewer days

Compressed hours: Working full-time hours over fewer days.

Flexitime: Your employee chooses when to start and end work (within agreed limits) but works certain ‘core hours’ each day.

Annualised hours: Your employee works an agreed number of hours over the year but has flexibility around when they work. There’s also the option to agree to regular ‘core hours’ and let your employee work the rest of their hours flexibly or when there’s extra demand at work.

Staggered hours: Your employee has different start, finish and break times from other workers.

Phased retirement: The default retirement age has been phased out and older workers can choose when they want to retire, meaning they can reduce their hours and work part-time.

This is definitely not an exhaustive list as different types of flexible working arrangements are adopted and created every day!

What does the law say?

Flexible working is not just a ‘nice to have’. By law, employees have the right to make a request for flexible working provided they have worked for at least 26 weeks and have made no other flexible working requests in the past 12 months.

Interested in reading more? Check out our blog on ‘Using flexible working to attract talent’.

Luke Richardson

A highly experienced recruitment leader with a background in regulated, consumer facing financial organisations, broadcasting and media, tech start-ups and hospitality.

A serial hobbyist, lover of animals and the go-to person when looking for an “out there” idea or solution.
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