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The future of work is flexible

Blog by Nikki Slowey, Co-Founder and Director, Flexibility Works. Nikki is delivering a workshop at SFHA's virtual Finance Conference. 

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Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the default Monday to Friday 09:00–17:00 office working pattern was becoming outdated. It was a legacy from the past that we just couldn’t quite shake off. Now we’ve witnessed a six-month period of mass home working, which has proved people can work effectively flexibly, including from home.

Flexible working is not a benefit, but, increasingly, it is a way of working that the majority of people are looking for. It is not something just for mums or working parents, although it can be hugely supportive for these groups, it’s for everyone. Pre-Covid, 75% of people in Scotland either had, or wanted, flexible working.

And the data shows this is set to increase post Covid; almost half (49%) of the UK workforce was entirely home-based at the height of the pandemic, compared with pre-coronavirus figures for Scotland showing around 30% could work from home at least some of the time.

According to research by Direct Line Life Insurance, 44% of UK workers (more than 13 million people) plan to ask their employer for changes to their long-term working pattern once the pandemic has subsided.

So, to be a progressive employer of choice in Scotland – now and in the future – flexible working needs to be in your organisational DNA.

When you get flexible working right, it delivers reduced costs from reduced absenteeism and increased retention, better engagement, better performance and better business resilience. You also can benefit from greater diversity and productivity as well as better wellbeing for your people.

Why? It’s not a magic fix in itself. But it is a way of working that enables employees to balance their work and life responsibilities.

It also focuses individuals, teams and managers on working better and smarter together. It is a way of working that is based on respect and on trust, two of the most powerful drivers of success.

Ultimately, it is about giving staff more choice in where they work, that’s what flexible working is all about and that’s what drives up performance and productivity.

Having worked on the flexible working agenda for several years now, I jointly founded Flexibility Works with Lisa Gallagher earlier this year to support even more employers in Scotland to create flexible workplaces.

For us, flexible working has a hugely positive impact for people, for business and for Scotland. I want my three boys – and all our children – to grow up in a fair and inclusive Scotland, and flexible working is part of achieving a healthy, vibrant, and more equal society. I have witnessed firsthand the positive impact that flexible working makes to business. I have seen organisations benefit from increased productivity, improved employee engagement and morale simply by introducing flexible working. I have also seen organisations successfully use flexible working to recruit and retain employees and to build a more diverse, inclusive, happier and healthier workforce.

I look forward to joining the SFHA Finance conference this year and hearing from all of you about what your opportunities and challenges are around flexible working and how, together, we can enhance your organisations with the benefit of flex.

SFHA Live! Finance Virtual Conference

Nikki will be delivering a workshop on Blended Working at SFHA's Finance Conference on 10 November. The virtual conference is taking place on 10 and 11 November over two half-day sessions. Rates start at:

  • £220 for both days for SFHA members
  • £310 for non members 

View the programme in full and book your place via this link.

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