What does ‘flexible working’ really mean?

On 30 June 2014, the UK introduced the right to request flexible working for anyone employed in a company for longer than 26 weeks. This means that even if you don’t have childcare or caring responsibilities, you have the right to request the ability to work flexibly, potentially allowing workers to juggle home and work-based responsibilities. Employers have the right to refuse any flexible working requests (for business reasons). Flexible working means that some workers can stay in employment longer and businesses are able to hold onto talent and potentially increase the geographical reach of their talent search. 

Now that restrictions are easing, a few companies are starting to get staff back into the office with differing forms of working practice. Even Big Tech companies in the US are differing in the type of Hybrid Working Model they would prefer to implement, coming out of the Lockdown restrictions. 

It will take some time for us to understand what bespoke working model works well for each individual company and industry. It will also take some time to understand how various forms of remote and hybrid working will impact businesses, managers, leaders, teams, and workers going forward. What we can guess, is that remote and flexible working arrangements will become a bigger part of the benefits package negotiations for those in more senior positions, those with a higher demand for specialist or expert skillsets and in industries where demand far outweighs supply.

There are used to be a strong narrative around ‘finding a job you love doing, as it will bring you the greatest level of life-satisfaction’. I think this mindset no longer applies. I think better advice for future workers is to work out what lifestyle they would prefer to have and then find a career or job that they will gain some satisfaction from, but that will suit their lifestyle, and become as skilled as they can within that career, so that they can enjoy the lifestyle they prefer. Technology has certainly made this reality a possibility and will continue to make it even more so in the future. It may be that companies who want to attract the best talent, and be the most efficient, productive and profitable by doing so, may need to embrace this as a potential reality going forward. If you want to attract the right talent into your working teams, you may need to revisit your flexible, remote and hybrid working practices, along with the cultural norms that surround those practices. 

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