Scottish workers and employers say flexible working should be here to stay
The first Scotland-specific research into the impact of Covid-19 on how we work shows employees and businesses expect far greater levels of flexibility in the workplace on a permanent basis as we emerge from the pandemic.
The findings are being released today to mark the anniversary of the first national lockdown and the start of a new campaign called #FlexForLife to encourage and support more Scottish businesses commit to greater flex for their workers long-term.
Flexibility Works, the social business behind the campaign and new research, says the Covid ‘experiment’ has proved to many employees and businesses that flexible working can benefit them, and that businesses need to act now to embed what was simply a response to the pandemic into a sustainable and profitable way of working.
The research included a poll with more than 1,000 Scottish workers who were not furloughed throughout the first lockdown and found:
· 61% worked from home at least some of the time
· Almost half (46%) worked exclusively from home
· 29% moved their hours around home responsibilities
Now, more than half (55%) of Scots say they’re considering asking for more flexibility when restrictions lift, while more than a quarter (27%) say they’ll definitely do this. These groups include workers who already have some flex and want more, and those who didn’t have any flex before Covid.
Most people only want relatively small changes, showing businesses are not facing a daunting revolution in working patterns:
· Nearly half (45%) want to work from home more regularly than before
· 32% want more flexitime – working the same total hours but flexing their start/finish times.
· Just 13% want to work part-time
· Only 5% want a job-share
More than half (51%) of homeworkers missed social interaction with colleagues, suggesting demand for full-time home working will be limited too.
A separate survey of more than 200 Scottish business leaders and senior managers shows three quarters (76%) credit offering more flexibility with helping the business survive the pandemic.
As a result of their Covid experience:
· 61% of Scottish employers say they expect to offer more home working even when restrictions lift
· 44% expect to offer more flexitime
· 41% expect to offer more informal flex, such as ad-hoc time off for appointments
Nikki Slowey, co-founder and co-director of Flexibility Works, said: “The pandemic forced many of us to work differently and it’s often been incredibly tough, whether you’ve been working, living and sleeping in one room, or juggling work with home school or caring responsibilities. Fortunately, we’ve discovered some unexpected benefits too. Flexing where - and when - we work has helped us to show employees and employers that we can work in different ways, and it has helped businesses continue to deliver for customers despite the pandemic disruption.
“Our Covid experience has undoubtedly changed opinions on flex and our research suggests there will now be greater supply and demand for it on a permanent basis. For businesses, this isn’t going to require a revolution because most people only want relatively small changes, such as a bit more working from home, or to amend their start and finish times.
“We’ve seen that our old ‘9-5’ office week is no longer fit for purpose. So we’re asking employers to work together with employees to co-create new ways of working. Managers don’t need all the answers, and teams often come up with the best solutions, if you ask them. Flexibility helped us weather the pandemic but now we should embrace it for life.”