The Alternative Workplace: How Flexible Working Has Changed

Flexible working is not a new concept. Advances in technology and societal trends mean it has been a possibility for workers for around 30 years. However, flexible working is becoming increasingly sought after and has increased in popularity, particularly in the last decade.

Now, since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in many office staff working from home, attitudes towards work environments have changed yet again. COVID-19 has shown that for many office workers, remote work is feasible or even preferable to the daily office commute. As lockdown has eased, workers have been slow to return to the office, with the majority of people who can, continuing to work from home.

What is flexible working?

Flexible working is a way of working that suits an employee’s needs, for example having flexible start and finish times, or working from home. All employees have the legal right to request flexible working. The benefits of flexible working for an employee are well known. But what is less frequently considered is that flexible working arrangements can in fact be of great benefit to employers also. Flexible working can help to:

  • Attract a wider pool of candidates, helping your organisation to employ a more skilled and diverse workforce
  • Retain talent by keeping skilled staff who are juggling a range of professional and personal priorities
  • Reduce costs on things like office space and energy bills
  • Extend working hours to best suit your business needs
  • Reduce sickness and absenteeism
  • Increase productivity

How flexible working has changed

One of the biggest drivers in flexible working and flexible workspaces has been technology. As technology advances, there have been increased options for staff to work productively remotely. More recently, improving internet speeds and better quality video conferencing facilities mean offsite employees can communicate with colleagues face to face while miles apart.

While technology does play a big part, social factors also come into play too. People want to have flexible working options that fit around their busy lifestyle. Those with children or elderly relatives need to account for caring responsibilities, such as the school run, cooking, cleaning and hospital appointments. Organisations which offer flexibility and the opportunity to strike a comfortable work and life balance are often the most favourable.

The need for a work-life balance is something which is also becoming increasingly more desirable. During the last five years, there has been greater emphasis on wellness and self-care. Members of the public are also becoming increasingly aware of the issues surrounding mental health, and the impact that stress and burnout can have on a person. For this reason, there is more support for flexibility at work.

Flexible learning

At the Academy of Leadership and Management (ALM), we know that one size does not fit all. Our range of online courses offer great flexibility, allowing you to focus and learn at a time that suits you, wherever you may be. We focus on developing leaders, managers, coaches, mentors and business advisers through practical work-based and distance learning programmes. All our courses lead to globally-recognised qualifications from an awarding body, such as ILM or the Small Firms Development Initiative (SFEDI). We are also an Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs (IOEE) approved academy. Click here to visit our online courses section and find what’s right for you.