Last updated: 25.06.14

Strong demand among employees for flexible working

Nearly four in ten people in full-time employment would like the opportunity to work flexibly, according to new research.
A study by recruitment firm Timewise found that 42 per cent of people would be keen to work in this way right now, while a further 70 per cent revealed they would be open to the idea in the future.
The research, entitled 'A flexible future for Britain', involved a nationally representative survey of 1,161 workers and 500 managers. It urged employers to advertise new jobs as being 'flexible', with just 25 per cent of vacancies advertised in the last 12 months explicitly stating that there was a flexible component involved.
Indeed, the study suggested that would-be flexible workers face looking for work in a "hidden market", highlighting the perceived reluctance of senior staff to openly discuss alternative working arrangements.
Despite misgivings about working on a flexible basis, many workers may find their superiors more receptive to the idea than they first thought.
More than 91 per cent of managers surveyed said they would be willing to discuss flexible working options with potential recruits.
Lynn Rattigan, deputy chief operating officer in the UK and Ireland at Ernst and Young, said that for many businesses, the problem is one of culture, arguing that many struggle to separate the idea of flexible working from notions of laziness.
"Cultural change inevitably takes time but the more role models we have, the easier it will become to unlock opportunities for both the talented people who need to work differently and the employers who would benefit from their skills," Ms Rattigan went on to add.
Karen Mattison, co-founder of Timewise, echoed these sentiments, going on to say that employers need to move with the times, which is crucial given the competition to recruit the best talent.
At the end of June, new rules are set to come into force which extend an employee's rights to request flexible working arrangements. At present, bosses must seriously consider requests from those with children under 16, those with a child under 18 with learning difficulties and those with a dependent adult.
The new rules will extend this to those with more than 26 weeks service with a firm.