• Helen Manson

Should Flexible Working be the default?

Since April 2003 when (some) employees were given the 'right' to request flexible working, businesses have made attempts to accommodate new ways of working that challenge the traditional 9-5 model. A model that existed during a time of single-earner households and stay-at-home mums.

No-one could argue this model remains in any capacity within today's society.

Infact, advancements in technology have meant there are no-longer 'core office hours' - employees should carry out their role in accordance to the requirements of their job, not some arbitrary time frame detailed in their contract which neither reflects their capabilities or the needs of the business.

Yet some businesses still insist they're unable to accommodate flexible working, a consequence of which has been an inability to retain and recruit top quality talent.

And if this isn't enough, a recent study from Henley Business School found implementing a four-day working week could save UK businesses £104 billion annually. The study also suggests compressed weeks and flexible working patterns lead to increased staff productivity and improved physical and mental wellbeing.

It really is time to wake up and smell the reality of flexible working.

Under a new bill currently being presented in parliament, employers could be forced to make all job roles flexible by default, rather than putting the onus on employees to request flexibility.

Under the flexible working bill, introduced by Conservative MP Helen Whately, employers would have to make all roles flexible – with employees allowed to choose from a predefined list of flexible arrangements – unless there was a sound business case for why the role could not be done flexibly.

At last - after what feels like 16yrs of dancing around the concept of flexible working - all businesses may begin to accept the benefits of allowing their employees to perform at their full potential beyond the counter productive confines of illogical, out-dated, irrelevant working patterns.

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