“What is flexible working”, we get asked nearly everyday

And what it is most definitely not

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Most days we get asked what is flexible working? Not because they don’t know, they may well have their own ideas but that is where (one of) the problem lies with flexible working is that no one size fits all, everyone has their own reason for working part-time or flexibly (see reasons below) and if they want to work flexibly they may well have different requirements, e.g. childcare.  

So what does flexible working mean? And does it just mean part-time?

Firstly, we must make it clear what it isn’t: flexible working is not another term for slacking or doing a full-time job in just four days (and for less pay), or being less ambitious, committed or less strategic. It is not working part of a job.

In fact, those that work flexibly are quite often the most engaged employees. For example, Addleshaw Goddard engagement survey consistently shows that their flexible employees are their most engaged. Most want to use their knowledge, expertise and experience they have worked hard to achieve but just in a slightly different way.

So here is what we think flexible working encompasses and what some progressive firms are embracing:

  • Part-time jobs – 4 days, 3 days, 2 days
  • Full time or 4 days with 1 or 2 days working from home
  • Full time – but the possibility to flex start and finish times
  • Job shares
  • Remote working
  • Home based working
  • Compressed hours
  • Fixed term contracts
  • Interim roles

The reasons for seeking flexible working is expanding. Here are a number of reasons why a candidate might want a part-time of flexible working role.

  1. Childcare responsibilities
  2. Caring responsibilities
  3. Reduce time spent commuting
  4. Preference for working from home just to be more efficient
  5. Supporting a secondary role, such as volunteering or even as an NED
  6. Supporting sporting ambitions
  7. Continuing studies and part-time education
  8. Allowing time for other professional development ambitions
  9. Healthcare
  10. Just because! Increasingly we have seen policies where you do not have to stipulate a reason why you may want to, say, work from home.

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