What’s the most important aspect of your perfect job role? Is it a healthy salary commensurate with your experience? A trendy Instagram-worthy office with a football table and pizza Fridays? Great colleagues and a clearly defined career path to help you flourish in your field? All of these are amazing, but more and more candidates are listing flexible working as the new must-have when looking for their next position. But what is flexible working, and do employers have to offer it? We share what we’ve learned recruiting for flexible marketing roles.
What is flexible working?
Loosely speaking, flexible working covers giving employees the freedom to work remotely from the office, either exclusively or in a hybrid arrangement. Remote working boomed during the COVID-19 pandemic when many offices closed overnight and employees had to set up shop at home. Many people found that working from home offered them a far better work/life balance, and they were saving time and money by ditching the daily commute.
In 2019, the Office of National Statistics reported that of the 32.6 million in employment, around 1.7 million people were working mainly from home, with around 4.0 million working from home in the week prior to being interviewed for the survey. By 2022, 14% of workers were exclusively working from home and 80% stated that they planned for hybrid work (between the office and home) going forward. There is no doubt that flexible working is here to stay.
Do employers have to offer flexible working?
In April 2003, the UK Government introduced the ‘right to request flexible working’ which historically applied to parents and certain other carers. The legislation now includes all employees with at least 26 weeks’ continuous employment, regardless of parental or caring responsibilities.
This not only covers where you work but also the hours that you work. According to ACAS, you might be able to make a ‘flexible working request’ to your employer if you want to:
- reduce your hours to work part-time
- change your start and finish time
- have flexibility with your start and finish time (sometimes known as ‘flexitime’)
- do your hours over fewer days (‘compressed hours’)
- work from home or elsewhere (‘remote working’), all or part of the time
- share the job with someone else
You can ask for the change to be for:
- all working days
- specific days or shifts only
- specific weeks only, for example during school term time
- a limited time, for example for 6 months only
Your employer can turn down your flexible working request if there’s a valid business reason for doing so.
What are the advantages of offering flexible working to employees?
The major one is happy employees! Flexible workers have a higher level of job satisfaction and commitment, and they are more likely to increase discretionary effort compared to those who do not work flexibly. It allows workers to save money on childcare and commuting. Flexible working can also reduce absence rates and allows employees to manage disability and long-term health conditions, as well as support their mental health and stress.
There are also savings for businesses, such as lowering bills for office space.
Flexible working in marketing
Due to the nature of the business, hybrid working has been rising in popularity in marketing over the last decade – lockdowns were the catalyst to making them even more common. When restrictions were fully lifted, many companies were able to meet employees’ wishes to continue working from home or return to the office on a flexible basis. Flexible working can be a very appealing factor for those looking to move roles, or a way to attract and retain key marketing staff in what remains a challenging candidate climate.