Due to the covid-19 pandemic, those who have been able have had to get used to a new working style. Flexible and remote working has become standard practice, and many believe that will remain the case for the foreseeable future.

Why has remote working become so popular?

While some people miss the sociability and structure that the traditional office system gave them, flexible and remote work has brought huge benefits and changes that we might have spent years trying to accomplish. Most notably, flexibility has made way for greater diversity in the workforce. By abandoning the old work parameters, many employers have been able to recruit people that before wouldn’t have been possible, such as disabled people, or returning mothers.

Flexibility at work puts the power into the employee’s hands and lets you create a working life that suits your needs. This ensures that their staff are as content and productive at work as they can be for employers.

Types of flexible work

Flexible work is the umbrella term used to describe any working pattern different from your existing one, or the standard Monday to Friday. There are many kinds of flexible work to suit the needs of different employees. They are:

  • Part-time: Not working full-time hours.
  • Flexitime: Having a set number of hours to complete in a week but choosing your start and finish times each day, e.g. working 11 am till 7 pm instead of 9 am till 5 pm.
  • Job sharing: Two or more people split a job and the hours.
  • Compressed hours: Working a set number of hours over fewer days.
  • Annualised hours: Having a set number of hours to complete each year but having some flexibility when you do them.
  • Staggered hours: Employees have a different start, break and finish times.
  • Phased retirement: Employees who want to retire can do so slowly by working part-time and gradually reducing hours.

Remote working

Remote working is a working style where employees work outside of the traditional office space. This is usually so they can work at home; however, that is not always the case. Millions of people across the UK have had to adjust to working at home due to the covid-19 pandemic, and it has shown that we are far more capable of just a shift that many would have thought. Working from home not only allows flexibility with your schedule, but it is saving people vast amounts of time and money by removing the commute.

If an employee still wanted to work in a communal space but couldn’t for some reason work in the office, maybe they live in a different city, or perhaps there isn’t an office at all, remote working allows them to work in a café or shared workspace.

Flexible working and diversity

While we may have believed that regular working hours and environments suited employee’s needs, it has now become clear that this structure restricts many people. Even worse, many people are unable to work because of it.

By diversifying the working schedule, an employer can access a much wider pool of candidates that could potentially fulfil the role. For example, if a company is based in London and required everybody to be in the office to work, then only people who could afford to live in London could apply to the job. However, if that company then offered remote working or flexible working in which you only needed to be in the office one day a week, many more people would apply.

Flexible working has proved to be especially popular for parents and those on maternity or paternity leave. In a traditional working structure, parents have to juggle parenting and work around each other, which can be extremely difficult. Flexible working enables parents to work in hours of the day that suit their children’s schedule.

Here at Aspiring to Include, we firmly believe that the first step to creating diversity and equality in the workplace is through a commitment to flexible working. For more information on creating an equal workplace, visit our dedicated guide for employers.