More and more people are working flexibly.
Article after article proclaims the death of the 9-5 and the birth of better working, while others worry about the erosion of workers’ rights and insecurity – think the furore around zero hours contracts, for example.
As flexible working becomes increasingly common we’re talking what flexibility means, who’s got it, why others want it, and why some don’t.
We asked our Angel consultants what they thought…
What is Flexible working exactly?
Flexible working actually takes many forms.
It could mean working from home while being employed or working contractually, or temporarily, for different employers.
It might also refer to the hours you work – ie, part-time, flexitime, job sharing or shift work.
Flexible working seems to be on the rise, why?
Well, the traditional 9-5 model is being challenged on various fronts.
Advances in online technology means workers can now securely access their work whenever and wherever they need to.
This means employees don’t have to physically be in the office to check emails or write a report or even attend a meeting.
That online reach also means we’re increasingly dealing with organisations on an international level.
Different time zones and an expectation of immediacy from customers who can interact with brands on social media 24/7 has resulted in businesses being put under pressure to expand their hours of availability.
Why is flexible working popular?
Research by Price Waterhouse Cooper shows that flexible work is actually the benefit most valued by employees – above even pay and bonuses!
Lifestyles are changing for one thing.
Mums want to return to work, but often part-time. Dads want a better work-life balance and time off with newborns – check out our recent USP Your Monday post on dads at work HERE.
And, while millenials are often cited as flexible-working enthusiasts, even older people, who’ll be working longer, will need to balance that with caring responsibilities for older relatives or may want to ‘wind down’ and work part-time instead of flat-out retire.
Why has it got a bad rap?
Well, the GMB union recently said the result of the Brexit vote is mainly down to ‘a fourth industrial revolution’ (What the World Economic Forum calls “…a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another).
This has seen the rise of the so-called ‘gig economy’ where people work part-time or contractually, often on short-term contracts with few rights.
Zero hour contracts is a key gripe. People can feel insecure, unsure of what they’ll make month to month, with none of the benefits regular employees enjoy.
What do businesses think?
Well, the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) reckons “[T]he UK’s flexible labour market is an ‘invaluable strength’. They say it’s behind Britain’s record employment rate and has bolstered the country’s competitiveness.
On the other hand traditional employment accounts for a greater share of taxes per capita then self-employment.
Is flexible working the future, then?
The RSA (the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) was recently commissioned by Theresa May’s government to look into the ‘gig economy’ and envision ways it could become “…a catalyst for fair, fulfilling work…”.
They found that while around 1.1 million people currently make up Britain’s gig economy nearly 8 million more said they’d consider some form of gig economy work in the future.
How do you make it work for you?
If you look at Instagram or Twitter bios you’ll see people refer to themselves as something like: cook / gardener / handyman / dad.
The so-called ‘slash culture’ sees more people not just working flexibly but working at more than one thing.
Indeed a recent OnePoll survey of 2,000 people in the UK found that almost one in five employed young people have two or more jobs – more than any other generation.
47% said they were doing it for variety, while 27% said getting experience was key – not simply money.
A ‘slash’ approach, also called a portfolio career, can be a way to combine your strengths and interests. Something working in one role might not always allow.
But how do you make that work with employers?
Yes, while you may be a trailblazing millenial employers might not be so progressive.
At Angel, we’d encourage you to ensure you know your values. That way you can align yourself with the kind of companies who are likely to provide flexible working patterns.
Plus, some employers see this ‘slash’ approach to careers a concern. Remember it costs to replace staff all the time.
To present yourself as viable employee it’s important to create a cohesive personal brand. Show why you’re doing more than one role – we recently talked about the power of blogging or having a website for graduates, but it’s great in this case too – READ MORE HERE
But employers should be thinking more flexibly too, right?
Yes, anyone who has been working with an employer for over 26 weeks service can make a request for flexible working.
You should make the request in writing and it should be considered and decided upon within 3 months of receipt.
Employers must have a sound business reason for rejection, but employees can only make one request in any 12 month period.
Any last comments?
Flexible working has its pros and cons for everyone involved. Legislation is having to catch up. Many employers are having to catch up too.
But if you think flexible working is for you joining an agency is actually a great idea. Agencies have great contacts when it comes to this area, so make the most of them.
Now over to you:
Have any thoughts on what you’ve read? Are you searching for a more flexible job? Want to ask about your particular career issues? Got any burning questions we could put to future Q & Angel guests? As ever, we want to hear what you’ve got to say!
Some next steps: