2 min read

Too many people still aren’t able to work flexibly

Thankfully, a new campaign is aiming to make it a right from day one of starting a job.
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What this piece gets at: a recent survey has exposed many that still fall through flexible work cracks. Here’s how we can help them.

An interesting fact before we get started: 92% of millennials consider flexibility a key working priority.

The state of play

Whenever governments and businesses first respond to a crisis, they’ll try to implement broad-brush policy to help as many people as quickly as possible. Much further down the line, they’ll create a more tailored approach to plug any remaining gaps and decrease the risk of the issue reoccurring.

Take the financial crash, for example — Gordon Brown bailed out high street banks to reassure the public that their savings were safe (let’s not get into an argument over how well he did, please). But only much later was a Financial Services Reform Bill passed through parliament to oversee the financial sector and reduce the likelihood of a future crisis.

Similarly, businesses switched swiftly to flexible working during the pandemic, with millions more of us now working from home. Whilst this was the right thing to do, many firms have stopped there and are yet to roll-out flexible working across the board. Simply put, the gaps haven’t yet been plugged.

The CIPD is calling for change

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) recently conducted a survey that puts the issue in stark relief. Almost half (40%) of people have not worked from home since the start of the pandemic. More worryingly, 20% of people are yet to be offered any flexible working arrangements whatsoever.

As the CIPD chief executive Peter Cheese notes, not all of us can work flexibly or from home. Indeed, it sometimes simply does not work. My house is currently undergoing some renovations, and I’d much prefer the painter and decorator to slather Elephant’s Breath on my living room walls than his own.

Nonetheless, there are still too many people that could be offered flexible arrangements and aren’t. Which is why the CIPD is rightly calling for a change in the law to make it a right to request flexible work from day one of a job, for all employees.

More imaginative flexible working policies are required

Whilst this may be a good thing, we must remember that flexible working is not merely about where one works, but also how and when they do so. It is understandable when companies see the trend toward flex and think, ‘well, we simply need our people in the office, there’s nothing we can do about that’.

But do you need them there at specific times? Or would allowing them the freedom to, for example, front-load their week and have Friday off, really lead to reduced productivity?

It is these kinds of creative solutions that can significantly increase the wellbeing of employees, and ultimately lead to a happier and more productive workforce. Indeed, masses of data show how flexibility can greatly increase wellbeing and motivation — an incredible 87% of people would prefer to work flexibly in a recent poll.

The takeaway: we should all try to implement flexible work wherever and however we can. Find out here how to hone your company policy.

Something to read next: Juggle is on a mission to change the future of work. We’re currently crowdfunding to help us in that journey, and you can read about why here.

Mya Ramanan

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