Could Flexible Working Lead to a Truly Inclusive Workplace?

By Shruti Ambavat

The Flexible Working Bill, effective from Saturday April 6, 2024, heralds a transformative era in employment practices, offering employees unprecedented rights to request flexible working conditions from the very first day of their employment in England, Scotland and Wales.

One can argue that these changes are due to the disruption caused by COVID-19 pandemic in our working lives on a global level during 2020 and most of 2021. It changed the perspective on traditional work-life model. Today, at least 93% of the Generation Z (born between 1997-2012) employees prefer flexible hours and schedule. At least 67% of Millennials (born between 1981-1996) prefer flexi-working. This number is 40% for Baby Boomers (born between 1955-1964) and 32% for Generation X (born between 1965-1980).

What is the Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023?

The regulations are part of wider changes made in the Act, which will require employers to consult with the employee when they make a flexible working request before rejecting it.

It will also mean the time employers have to respond to a request will be reduced to two months, from the three months they were allowed.

Employees will be able to make two requests within a 12-month period, compared to the single request they were previously allowed.

In this post, we are going to look at various aspects that flexible working brings to both, the employees and their employers.  

Key advantages of flexible working arrangements –

For Employees:

  • Improved Work-Life Balance: Flexible hours allow employees to manage personal commitments like childcare, eldercare, or pursuing education alongside work. This reduces stress and fosters a healthier lifestyle.
  • Increased Job Satisfaction: Greater control over work schedules leads to higher satisfaction and morale. Employees feel valued and trusted, leading to more engagement with their work.
  • Reduced Commute Stress: Working from home or having flexible start and finish times can significantly cut down on commute times, leading to less stress and improved well-being.

For Employers:

  • Attract and Retain Talent: Offering flexible work options makes businesses more attractive to potential hires, especially those seeking a better work-life balance. It can also help retain valuable employees who might otherwise leave due to inflexible schedules.
  • Boosted Productivity: Studies suggest that flexible working can lead to increased productivity. With happier and less stressed employees, engagement and focus tend to improve.
  • Reduced Costs: Businesses can save on overhead costs like office space or utilities when employees work remotely. Flexible working can also lead to lower absenteeism due to improved employee wellbeing.

Flexible work arrangements can have far reaching impact on not just women but also neurodiverse individuals, people with disabilities and ethnically diverse population of the UK’s workforce. Organisations such as Timely Careers support women to return to work by removing the obstacles, anxiety and challenges that women face. The organisation enables and empowers women, through training and a jobs board, to get back into work by connecting them to the right support and the right jobs, at the right time for them.

What does flexible working arrangement mean for the ethnic minority in the workforce?

  • Accommodating Caring Responsibilities: Research shows at least 41% of employees from ethnically diverse background have elder care or childcare needs, and flexible hours can help them manage these alongside work. This can prevent them from having to leave their jobs entirely.
  • Work-Life Balance: Flexible working allows for a better balance between work and personal life, which can be especially beneficial for ethnic minorities who may be involved in cultural or religious activities outside of work.

What does flexible working arrangement mean for the neurodiverse and people with disabilities individuals in the workforce?

  • Manage health conditions: Flexible hours allow workers to schedule appointments, treatments, and manage flare-ups around their work schedule. This reduces absenteeism and presenteeism (being physically present but unwell).
  • Improved productivity: A quieter, more comfortable work environment at home can improve focus and productivity for some. This can be especially true for people with chronic pain or sensory sensitivities.
  • Reduced stress: Avoiding the commute and having more control over their workday can be a major stress reliever for employees with disabilities.
  • Greater inclusion: Flexible working opens up career opportunities for people with disabilities who may have previously been excluded due to challenges with a traditional work environment.

Overall, the flexible working policy in the UK is creating a more positive work environment for both employers and employees. It empowers individuals, fosters a healthier work-life balance, and contributes to a more productive and competitive business landscape.

To learn more about diversity and inclusivity at workplace, please book a call with us.

Resources used in this article:

Fast Company – Gen Z says this is what they want over your fancy office perks – Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023

Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2020


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