Flexible working can be difficult to define. However, there is a huge range of different ways of working that can fall into this category. These can include any of the following:
Part-time working: work is generally considered part-time when employees are contracted to work anything less than full-time hours.
Term-time working: a worker remains on a permanent contract but can take paid/ unpaid leave during school holidays.
Job-sharing: a form of part-time working where two (or sometimes more) people share the responsibility for a job between them.
Flexitime: allows employees to choose, within certain set limits, when to begin and end work.
Compressed hours: compressed working weeks reallocate work into fewer and longer blocks during the week.
Annual hours: the total number of hours to be worked over the year is fixed but there is variation over the year in the length of the working day and week.
Working from home on a regular basis: workers regularly spend time working from home.
Mobile working/ teleworking: this permits employees to work all or part of their working week at a location remote from the employer's workplace.
Career breaks: extended periods of leave (also known as sabbaticals) - normally unpaid - of up to several years.
Zero-hours contracts: an individual has no guarantee of a minimum number of working hours, so they can be called upon as and when required and paid just for the hours they work.
However, the list above isn’t exhaustive. Flexible working can include other practices, for example, flexible staff banks, employee self-rostering, shift-swapping or taking time off for training.
Flexible work patterns including part-time working, remote working, and flextime hours have all rapidly increased as organisations looked to adapt to the changing working environment caused by the Covid 19 pandemic.
2020 saw a massive increase in those working from home around the country, with 24% now working exclusively from home, in comparison to 14.2% in 2019 (National Office of Statistics).
And data shows that employees are looking to continue the trend of flexible working patterns throughout 2021.
According to data from Statista, 63% of workers in the UK support a four-day working week, while only 16% consider traditional 9-5 working hours to be ideal.
In our recent survey of over 150 jobseekers over a variety of industries, in relation to choosing a new role, 78% of respondents said that flexible working is an important part of their job search.
Of that figure, 59% would ask about flexible working policies at interview stages, with 19% saying they would turn down a role that didn’t offer any flexibility. Only 22% of respondents said that flexible policies would not impact their decision on a new role.
With fears of disengagement and loss of productivity when employees were given increased flexibility, many organisations are turning to more flexible working patterns to attract top talent.
Many candidates will be looking to find roles that offer flexibility to allow them to create a better work-life balance, shorten their time commuting each week, and fit in with their responsibilities (such as childcare or studying) outside of work.
And flexible working options are being proven to be beneficial for employers as well as employees, allowing them to access a wider candidate pool no longer bound by geography. Remote working will empower organisations anywhere in the world to find candidates from around the globe, with unlimited opportunity to expand and grow.