The Rise of Flexible Working in 2021

The current trend for the workforce is the rising demand for flexible working hours. According to Kidd (2020), the traditional nine-to-five working pattern is becoming outdated and considered no longer fit to suit the modern worker. Understanding this new demand, HR departments and organisations need to engineer the right approach to this new way of working to avoid employers entering a battle of legal issues.

The transition to flexible working hours has been accelerated with recent COVID-19 developments and is clear that for business continuity, flexible working needs to be closely monitored for both the employee’s and employer’s benefit. (CIPD, 2020).

Is flexible working manageable?

The main pushback associated with a flexible working policy is the ability for the employer to manage the business productivity with the employees’ best interest in mind. To contradict with the fundamental principle of ‘freedom at work’ attached to flexible working, an organisation will need to inflict strict policies to ensure sufficient workload outputs to maintain business sustainability, but also introduce an effective regulation procedure to monitor employee hours and avoid blurred lines of home and work-life balance.

Does flexible working promote an ‘always on’ culture?

Flexible working policies, such as the ability to work from home, may be met with the resistance of an ‘always on’ culture that can be fostered when work and home life is mixed. A recent article published by Aviva (2020), commented that 50% of employees reported feeling as though they never fully switch off from work when in a working from home setting. This provides an alarming risk to employee’s mental health which must be met with immediate risk-management responses from an employer.

To conclude, the flexible working policy, as with all policies, has its positive and negatives and can provide organisations with an appealing benefit to their existing and new employees. However, unless the policy is met with strict and precise guidelines, the risks associated with flexible working can prove detrimental to a business, but more importantly, employee wellbeing and retention.

References

Kidd, J (2020) ‘Do we need a new approach to flexible working?’ People Management, 6th May. Available at: https://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/experts/legal/need-new-approach-flexible-working#gref (Accessed 27/07/2021)

Aviva, (2020) ‘Employees struggle with ‘always on’ culture’. Available at: https://www.aviva.com/newsroom/news-releases/2020/12/employees-struggle-with-always-on-culture/ (Accessed 27/07/2021)

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