Lovewell’s logic: Is flexible working becoming the new normal?

How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected working arrangements in your organisation?

As many organisations, particularly in the retail sector, have begun to open their doors again this week, and others prepare to do so, many businesses are questioning what changes to working arrangements resulting from the pandemic and lockdown could mean for future organisational strategy.

Research published by The Business Clean Air Taskforce earlier this week, for example, found that 87% of those currently working from home would like to continue to do so to some degree. The research also found that 41% of the 19.5 million people who have been working from home since lockdown were previously unable to do so.

A separate survey by charity Working Families, meanwhile, found that nine in 10 want their workplace to retain flexible working post-Covid-19. Prior to lockdown, 65% of the 1,000 working parents and carers of children under the age of 18 surveyed had flexible-working opportunities. Some 84% are now working flexibly. Of those who were not working flexibly prior to lockdown, 20% now intend to put in a formal request to work from home more in the future, while 11% are planning to formally request changes to their working hours and patterns.

This follows the move of organisations such as business platform Slack, which has introduced a permanent remote working policy enabling the majority of its 1,664 employees to work flexibly on a permanent basis if their role permits.

For some individuals, the move towards a greater proportion of homeworking may be welcomed as some nervousness understandably still exists around returning to workplaces and commuting. Home or remote working, however, may not suit everyone, with some employees preferring to have a clear demarcation between their work and home lives or preferring the social interaction of a physical workplace.

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Of course, not all organisations will be in a position to move to more flexible working arrangements on a permanent basis. And those that do will need to consider the impact of doing so on factors such as organisational culture and the employee experience. Current circumstances, however, have certainly presented an opportunity for employers to review current working practices, having demonstrated that, in some cases, arrangements that previously seemed unsuited to the business may actually work in the organisation’s favour.

Debbie Lovewell-Tuck
Tweet: @DebbieLovewell