Mother and son working at laptop

Your quick guide to the future of flexible working

Even before the pandemic, some experts believed we were reaching a tipping point in terms of the way we work, now they are even more convinced that the traditional nine-to-five day will soon be a thing of the past. Let’s take a brief look at the factors affecting our changing perception of working patterns

What is driving our changing perception of working patterns?

Empathy

Can big businesses really empathise with the complex needs of every employee? Research carried out by the Centre for Creative Leadership (CLL)1 demonstrated that empathy is directly linked to motivation and productivity so, showing a little empathy can go a long way to keep staff happy.

Technology

We’re all aware of how much easier remote working is becoming for many professions. If 2020 taught us anything it is that many of us need little more than a computer with an internet connection. Thanks to software improvements and digital innovations, even those needing to connect to specific resources can normally do so remotely.

Trust and respect

Increasingly, employees see an organisation that offers flexible working as an organisation that trusts them. According to Paul J. Zak the founding director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies3, “Compared with people at low-trust companies, people at high-trust companies report: 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives, 40% less burnout.”

The influence of freelancers

With almost 2.2 million freelancers, the UK is the second fastest growing freelance market in the world with a 59% year on year revenue growth2. Some of the biggest plus points reported by freelancers include, no commuting, lower work-related stress and more freedom.

As a result, permanent employees working in a more traditional pattern are starting to take note. So, businesses who want to retain permanent staff may have to be flexible to combat this.

Generation Y and Z expect flexibility

Research by Deloitte4 has shown that Generation Y and Z have very different attitudes to work, with 50% considering flexibility “very important” in choosing a job.

Growing up in a world that advocates and celebrates bedroom entrepreneurs that have built global businesses, young people desire the same freedom and control over how they work. When it comes to hiring Generation Z, businesses will need to promote flexible working to attract them, let alone retain them.

What will flexible working look like in the future?

Some experts are already predicting drastic changes in the not-too-distant future.

Here are a few of the predictions:

  • Presenteeism (attending work in spite of illness) will be non-existent
  • Personal preferences will be taken into consideration when planning working patterns, not simply family or health issues
  • Teams will be ‘virtual’ – connected by the projects they’re working on rather than where they work
  • Businesses will promote flexible working when attracting employees
  • The standard number of working hours in the UK could be reduced. In France, the statutory working week is 35 hours, but France produces more per person than Britain or Germany.
  • Compressed hours – used often in the public sector, allowing employees to work longer and therefore fewer days – could become more prevalent
  • Desks in offices will be shared, used more casually to accommodate a wider mix of transient employees

Is the future flexible?

Back in 2013, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer banned working from home, citing the need for physical collaboration that can only happen in person.

Whereas recently, Microsoft announced its 2300 strong workforce in its Japan offices will work a four-day week. According to the company, the shortened weeks led to more efficient meetings, happier workers and boosted productivity by a staggering 40%.

For us, flexible working is already doing well, so whether it is working from home, flexi time or shorter working weeks like these, flexible working is not only here, but it would seem in one form or another, it is here to stay.https://www.tate.co.uk/tate-blog

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References:

1 SB Online [Internet] Accessed August 2021  

2 Do not disappoint me | Freelancing statistics article | Accessed August 2021  

3 Harvard Business Review | Article by Paul J. Zak | Accessed 2021  

4 Deloitte | Internet |2018 Report | Accessed August 2021