Great flexpectations: the era of flexible working
Economists have long since predicted the arrival of the 15 hour work week, as technological advances make the conventional 9 to 5 grind a thing of the past.
What was once the exclusive domain of office managers and HR departments last month entered the political arena as MP Helen Whately introduced a flexible working bill in Parliament.
Set to address the gender pay gap, share childcare responsibilities and improve staff retention, the bill has gained an increasing amount of support in recent weeks.
Speaking in parliament, Helen Whately MP said the flexible working bill “would help close the gender pay gap, assist parents to share childcare, and help businesses keep staff”. Addressing the subject of the gender pay gap Helen Whately MP noted that many women work part time jobs which could in fact be full time ‘flexible’ positions which would go some way towards addressing the disparity in earning capability of men and women. This shift towards a more flexible model of working is becoming increasingly important to staff who now consider flexible working to be more important than a fixed desk position in their office. As noted by Personnel Today, less than 10% of jobs with a £20k+ salary are being advertised as being ‘flexible’ despite the right to request flexible working being introduced back in 2014.
Flexible working does not just benefit staff though, as a recent study from Harvard Business School revealed that staff working flexibly were more productive than those working to a traditional schedule.
Anne Donovan, U.S. People Experience Leader at PwC champions flexible working and notes in an article with the Harvard Business Review, “For us, flexibility is not about working less, but it is about encouraging people to work differently. It’s a two-way street. We give our people the flexibility they need when they need it, and sometimes, we need them to give more when business demands require it.”
Prithwiraj Choudhury, an associate professor in the Technology and Operations Management Unit at Harvard Business School, highlights that a progressive approach to flexible working reaps rewards for all parties: “For the vast majority of such employers, remote work is a win-win, because the employee can move to a location of choice and save money in cost of living, and the employer will see higher productivity and lower attrition, and save on real estate costs.”
Despite this, the report does highlight that in situations where more project-based interaction or brainstorming is required, a flexible working approach could increase costs and that more research is required to better understand flexible working in collaborative environments.
The environmental benefits of flexible working are huge; cutting commutes and working closer to home could save 7.8 million tonnes of carbon annually by the year 2030. Many commentators believe the notion of a commute will change significantly in the ‘future workplace’ as there is a shift away from traditional transportation and working ‘out of office’ becomes more commonplace.
As flexible working becomes more popular with staff and employers alike, the requirements of offices and collaborative spaces is becoming evermore important. Spaces need to do more than ever before; guaranteeing connectivity, privacy, space for collaborative working and making effective use of existing floorspace to deliver maximum value for organisations and their teams. At Kerr Office Group we work closely with our clients to understand the exacting requirements of their modern workplace, and design a solution that delivers for their staff and drives tangible business growth. We’re not in the business of design for the sake of it; we are fully focussed on improving working lives.
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