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Remote Working vs Flexible Working

Looking into the concept of remote working and flexible working in the UK workforce

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    Posted June 27, 2024

    Modern concepts such as flexible working and remote working have gained substantial traction, especially in the UK. Technological advancements and societal normality have shifted, and the traditional nine-to-five office structure is gradually moving away so that organisations can adapt to their employee’s needs to improve their lifestyles. However, these terms still need clarity due to them being a fairly new practice. In this blog, we are going to look into the statistics behind remote working and flexible working, whilst looking at how these terms are adopted in today’s workplace. Remote Working Remote working has been the biggest change in the workplace over the last few years. Its prevalence has increased every year since the pandemic which has only recently seen the brakes go on. As of 2023 28.2% of employees have adopted a hybrid working model and 98% of businesses want to adopt some type of working-from-home model (Forbes). Compare this to pre-pandemic when only 13.9% of employees worked from home (Statista), and it’s easy to see that the events of 2020 made a huge change in the way we work. Remote working can have both a positive and negative effect on workers’ health and well-being. ONS data shows that in February 2022, almost half of those who worked from home reported that it improved their well-being (47%).   A further 78% of those who worked from home in some capacity said that being able to work from home has resulted in an improved work-life balance. A recent study stated that 98% of businesses want to adopt some type of working-from-home model (Forbes). However, remote and hybrid working can lead to the blurring of work-life boundaries and can cause a feeling of pressure to always be available online, as well as an increase in unpaid overtime work hours. Experts suggest that supporting remote and hybrid working in the longer term will require supporting more inclusive approaches to remote working, more training, support to workers on cybersecurity and increasing access to digital technologies infrastructure as well as improving digital skills (UKparliament). A recent study has found that as a result of remote working, organisations have seen an increase in both productivity and control (National Institution of Health) but industries need to keep a close eye on employees’ well-being wherever remote working is in place. Flexible Working Organisations are now working out arrangements to create a more flexible work-life balance for their employees. As long as deadlines and KPI’s are being met, organisations are now looking to work around their employees. A recent study by McKinsey & Company found that over 75% of employees prefer flexible work arrangements. Recent years have shown that traditional work schedules don’t work for everyone in the modern day – and for a lot of people, they never really have. Whether it’s coming in late to drop the kids off at school or going to the gym during a long lunch to improve physical and mental well-being, organisations are creating flexible working arrangements which benefit both the organisation’s performance and the employee’s wellbeing. A recent study found that 75% of employees prefer flexible working arrangements. British workers now have more flexibility than ever as a result of the Flexible Working Bill achieving Royal Assent. In short, this means workers will have the right to request flexible working from day one of a new job (GOV.UK). Currently, 4.42 million UK workers are allowed to adopt some style of flexible working from their current organisation (Statista). Throughout the UK, 40% of employees have seen an increase in flexible working and organisations have seen a 10% increase in the importance of offering flexible working (CIPD). The use of flexible working is only going to increase in the coming years so that employees can face the needs of their daily lives.   The use of the terms flexible working and remote working in the UK remains a topic of significance and debate. While the terms have their benefits such as increased autonomy, productivity, and work-life balance, they also come with implementation such as unique challenges and considerations. Flexibility is the cornerstone of modern employment practices, but its use varies on the organisation’s needs, industry norms and individual preferences. The ideal outcome is a balance that meets the needs of employees while reaching the full employee potential for the organisation. Embracing the nuances of flexible and remote working will be essential in the complexities of the contemporary workplace landscape.

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