Five years from now, the way we all work could be completely different. Thanks to more relaxed view of the classic nine to five, as well as positive influence from our New Zealand and Scandinavian neighbours, the future of working is looking far more flexible. Right now, it’s estimated around 63% of UK employees work flexibly in some way, and the preference to continue doing so is strong in both sexes: a recent report stated 84% of male full-time employees either work flexibly already or have the desire to, and that number rises to 91% in women.
For those worried that it might not work in their office because it might not benefit the boss, then there’s hope yet – according to TotalJobs, the advantages for the employer outweigh the negatives: “Among the benefits, improved retention (74%) and employee commitment (67%) ranked as the most appealing. What’s more, flexible working has proved to be a surprise solution to looming redundancies, enabling employers to hang on to talent by reorganising their input in creative ways.”
That’s not the only thing driving the demand for flexible working – TotalJobs estimate by 2030, one in five UK workers will be mothers, 25% of all families will be single parent families, and up to 10 million people will have carer responsibilities as the population ages. Flexibility is likely to become to only way to keep us all working in practical terms.
It’s a growing want from parents that really pushes the drive for the option to work flexibly. New research from careers site Indeed shows that 29% of British parents miss out on bedtime with their children at least three times a week due to working late and over a third (34%) feel guilty for losing out on that quality time. Presenteeism also seems to be a problem, with 25% of workers feeling obliged to stay at work longer than necessary.
“In particular, flexible working enables parents to keep working in ways that best suit the needs of both their family and career,” explains TotalJobs expert, Stephen Warnham. “By offering people to return to roles on a flexible basis, businesses can retain staff and increase the diversity of their talent.”
Millennials are also showing a strong desire to work flexibly, with many shunning the nine-to-five to work more suitable hours and take on portfolio careers. “There’s an increasing number of millennials embracing flexible working patterns as a priority when looking for a new job and research carried out by Totaljobs shows many people actually work best from home – attracting the best candidates means offering flexibility when it comes to how and where individuals want to work,” Stephen says.
So, whether you’re a new parent, a millennial, or just someone who wants to see what all the fuss is all about, here are the flexible working options that could be available to you:
Part-time work: You could be working half days, short days or less than five days a week. This is a popular option for women returning to work after pregnancy or for those who want more time for study or other interests. To cover a full-time position, your company might arrange job sharing between two part-time employees.
Flexitime: An increasingly popular option that provides workers some control over their hours, particularly start and finish times.
Annualised hours: Originally used by seasonal industries, annualised hours schemes now help other employers deal with fluctuating workloads by stipulating a set number of hours per year an employee is required to work.
Zero-hours contracts: These guarantee workers no work at all but require them to be “on call”. You’re most likely to come across zero-hours contracts in nursing, retail or supply teaching.
Term-time working: Ideal for working parents. This allows employees time off during school holidays.
Compressed hours: The working week is restructured so that the same number of hours can be worked in fewer days. For example, you could do four ten-hour days instead of five eight-hour days and gain a day off a week.
V-time working: This is a voluntary arrangement that reduces an employee’s hours for an agreed period, with a guarantee that they will resume full-time employment at a specific date.
Job sharing: When two part-time employees share the work and pay of a single full-time job.
Location Flexibility: The ability to work wherever is convenient/makes the most sense to you.
Phased retirement: Allowing an employee who is approaching retirement age to continue working with a reduced workload, and eventually transition from full-time work to full-time retirement.