Is Flexible Working all it’s cracked up to be?

Posted on February 4th, 2016 By Joanna Byerley No Comments

You may not be aware that, in June 2014, all UK employees were given the legal right to apply for flexible working after 26 weeks of continuous employment. Flexible working isn’t just working ‘flexitime’ or working from home, it can also mean job sharing, working part time, working compressed hours (working full-time hours but over fewer days), and working annualised hours. As a market research recruitment agency we’ve found that we are getting asked about flexible working more and more. Some people want to work flexibly to pursue a personal interest or to complete further study, and others to work it around child-care. It can be the deal breaker between some really hot talent taking a market research job and rejecting an offer, and we are finding that some market research companies are really embracing the flexible working ethos, and others are more reluctant to jump on the flexitime bandwagon. So it’s a marmite question; why do some organisations love it and others hate it?

Earlier on this year there was an article in the Guardian newspaper which stated that ‘flexible working can make you ill’. Always being available on the end of a mobile phone and the constant checking of work emails, unable to ever switch off, is keeping our stress hormones unnaturally high, and disturbing our sleep patterns – in the long run affecting our immune systems. The line between home and work is becoming too blurred.

It’s not only those who are taking up flexible working that are finding some problems with it. Those left behind in the offices often think that it’s destroying the traditional office culture, according to new research published by ‘Direct365’. It’s affecting team morale, and quite often those working in the office will find themselves picking up some of the tasks (reactive or otherwise) that can only be done actually at the place of work.

On the flip side, a recent survey by parenting website Mumsnet says that out of the parents recently surveyed, flexible working arrangements were more important to them than a salary increase or promotion. And despite the impact that flexitime can have on your health, those who work from home and to flexible hours are generally very appreciative of the fact that they can work in this way and are positive about their employers.

So, what is the answer to the flexible working question? Technically we’ve learnt that despite the ethos of the organisation you work for, you can apply for flexible working after 26 weeks of continuous employment. But should you? Is it going to ruin your health? If you see a market research job advertised that sings out for home working to flexible hours, should you be running a mile for the sake of your own sanity? We can’t answer those questions for you, but in the same way that some people may really need to motivate themselves to be able to actually achieve much work at home, others really need to have the discipline to put the work phone away and switch it off at night. You know what they say about all work and no play!

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