2to3days is the UK's leading flexible working recruitment agency. We specialise in providing opportunities for high calibre professional women and giving employers a platform to connect capable women with career flexibility.
What do we mean by flexible work? All types of part-time work, including compressed or staggered hours, flexitime, job shares and even remote working. The definition of flexible work also allows for agile working practices in larger firms, output-based contracts and virtual teams.
Flexible working arrangements
Flexible work arrangements are roles which break the norms of the traditional working week (defined by most as 9-5 Monday-Friday), and aims to grant greater freedom over where, when and how employees fulfil their given roles.
Born out of, and implemented by the American trade and labor unions of the mid 1800s, and championed by legendary manufacturer, Henry Ford, the 9-5 Monday to Friday working week has been the status quo for the vast majority of professionals in societies all over the globe.
But, does this really reflect what employees want? Moreover, is it even effective?
As is sometimes the case with business practices that go unquestioned for decades, there is a rising tide of evidence to suggest that the rigid working week doesn’t just negatively impact workplace productivity, but also actively works to exclude women from enjoying the same career successes and trajectories as their male counterparts.
"This entrenches the assumption that men are the breadwinners and women are the homemakers.” Stated UK MP Helen Whatley, when introducing a bill (July 2019) to make flexible work the default for all employees, not just upon request of the employer. Stating further:
“...Men don't get to spend as much time as they might like with their children, women miss out on career opportunities, and the country loses out on the contribution they could and would like to make - if only they could do slightly different hours or work some days from home."
Workplace flexibility (and the evolving workplace)
Attitudes to flexible work are changing and the movement is enjoying a significant boost in support from more millennials joining the workforce, and although less than 10% of jobs advertised jobs in the UK are flexible in nature, though it is important to note that this is an increase of nearly 50% from 2014.
According to the Independent.co.uk, flexible working hours, bigger pension contributions and extra holiday for long service are amongst top work perks British employees want.
A recent study of 2,000 workers found approximately 50% were in favour of employment benefits having a strong focus on a greater work-life balance.
The same study produced a list of desires, and concerns for different workforce demographics, showing that younger adults highlighted the desire for help with housing, whilst older generations were more concerned with private healthcare and pension contributions.
Flexible work in the UK : Quick facts
The increased desire for more flexible work opportunities has support from nearly every working demographic, so, here are a few relevant facts about changing attitudes to rigid employment structures, as well as the increasing movement for a greater work life balance and flexibility in the workplace.
- 92% of Millennials identify flexibility as a top priority when job hunting
- 80% of women and 52% of men want flexibility in their next role
- 70% of UK employees feel that flexible working makes a job more attractive to them and 30% would prefer flexible working to a pay rise
- And most over-50s want to ease slowly into retirement through reducing hours and working flexibly.
The advantages of flexible working…
Companies all over the globe are waking up to flexible work offerings for prospective employees- as not only does survey data indicate a growing desire from the workforce, but they also demonstrate that a greater work/life balance leads to increased motivation, mental health and wellbeing, as well as workplace creativity and productivity levels.
Modern companies must adapt to the changing sentiments, as it is clear that the 9-5 work week does not cater to changing lifestyles and responsibilities- if they do not, then they risk losing valuable employees in favour of companies that do offer more flexible work opportunities.
The evolving role of HR departments has played an important role in shifting company thinking.
Technology has also been vital in supporting the move towards a more flexible work week. Modern tech enables remote work, vastly increasing the opportunity pool for those wishing to work remotely or from home. Intranet communication apps like slack and hipchat, as well as the digitisation of more job prospects allow prospective employees to work diligently outside of the walls of their office, as well as outside traditional working hours.
Digital solutions are clearly a big part of this movement – workers can remain engaged with their colleagues and work, and feel like part of the company and its culture.
Flexible work for women
Over the past 40 years, the UK has seen a steady rise in the numbers of women in employment. The employment rate among women of age between 25-54 is up 57% in 1975 to a record high of 78% in 2017.
These changes are largely the result of a change in working patterns at particular points in the life cycle, with far more women in employment over the course of their mid-to-late 20s and early 30s.
It is also because women are now much less likely to drop out of the labour market around the time they have their first child, and much more likely to stay in paid work in the years following.
Family care and the changing work/life balance...
Smart organisations need to recognise that a shift toward a more flexible arrangement for employees benefits the entire dynamic! We are not just talking about women with children, as the research shows that from millennials to early retirees flexibility is becoming a key factor across the whole jobs market.
MP Helen Whatley stated further on the issue: "The 40-hour, five-day working week made sense in an era of single-earner households and stay-at-home mums, but it no longer reflects the reality of how many modern families want to live their lives, (and) at the moment, too many women are reluctantly dropping out of work or going part-time after having children because their employers won't allow them flexibility.”
Types of flexible work arrangements
- Remote working opportunities
- Part-time or term-time
- Compressed hours & flexitime
- Annualised or staggered hours
- Phased retirement
Return to work programmes are initiatives championed by companies that aim to encourage professional women and mothers to re enter the workplace after a period of time off. These programmes have become hugely popular and effective since their inception in the early 2000s, and aim to work as a bridge between a period of time off and getting back into the workforce.
For candidates returning to the workforce, 2 to 3 days has a variety of returnship programmes on offer. Just see our jobs board! Thinking about offering a returnship programme at your organisation? Read more about it here.
Today, nearly three-fifths of UK organisations have a diversity strategy, most commonly used in monitoring recruitment and training interviewers.
Increased flexibility means greater equality...
Recent years have seen a sizeable shift in the amount of CEOs and employers focused on diversity in all forms. From work arrangements to gender and ethnic diversity in the workplace- a shift which properly reflects the world outside of the office environment.
This can only be a good thing, as levelling the playing field for working women who take a break of two years to focus on raising children are no longer disadvantaged.
Studies suggest that millennial men's interest in having a fuller life out of work than their predecessors may accelerate gender equality, but only if they are also interested in caring for children, according to the visiting Dean of Harvard Kennedy School.
Shifting demographics have had a tangible impact on the needs and wants of the global workforce in recent years, and it’s high time for employers to catch up.
Ready to join the movement? Advertise your flexible working opportunities with the UK’s leading flexible talent recruitment agency today.