There are many things that you should consider when you’re looking for a new employer. There’s the usual – the job, the pay, perks, culture et al. But one thing that people find increasingly important is a work-life balance, and for good reason. Flexible Working is something that you should look for in a new job, or even ask your current employer about. 

It’s often been said that work-life culture in the UK has changed from “work to live” to “live to work”. With an always-on culture we are rarely disconnected from our jobs.

One way that companies can alleviate that is by offering a flexible work schedule. Allowing flexible working means we can arrange our lives around our jobs, rather than being constrained to set hours. 

Your rights

Under UK law, permanent employees who have worked continuously for 6 months have the right to request flexible working. Employers have to respond within three months and any refusal should be “absolutely justified”. Flexible working can mean things like changes to hours or moving to a different location.

Why it’s good for you

Studies have found that flexible working, if done properly, increases productivity. That’s obviously a boost for the company you’re working for, but it’s a boost for you too. You’ll be able to offer your employer more, excel your career and of course, better productivity means you’re doing a better job, and everyone wants that. 

Business Insider quotes Ron Friedman, social psychologist and author of The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace, as saying:

“We have decades of studies showing that people are happier, healthier, and more productive when they feel autonomous. The more autonomous we feel, the more likely we are to be engaged.”

As well as improving productivity, flexible working improves employee morale and job satisfaction. It goes without saying that having higher morale and job satisfaction is something we all want. From a career development perspective, job satisfaction means you’re likely to stay in a job longer, giving you the opportunity to climb the ladder and improve your CV.

The status quo

However, the situation right now is that most businesses don’t recognise the benefits that flexible working offers. Or at least don’t feel able to offer the required flexibility. 

HR News says that currently, two-thirds of UK employees want to work more flexibly than their employee currently offers. And according to Business Insider, more than three quarters of millennial employees would take pay cuts to work for a company with flexible office hours. This suggests that there is high demand but low supply for companies offering the desired flexibility.

The changing landscape

But the status quo is changing. More companies are changing to flexible working schedule. Compared with five years ago, Business Insider says, 40% more companies are now offering flexible work arrangements, letting staff work from home or changing their schedules. 

More companies are recognising that this is an increasing priority for the workforce. As well as more companies offering it, it also means that when you go into negotiations with a new or existing employer – perhaps alongside salary talks – you have another bargaining chip.

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