One of the things that drives The New Work Network is our desire to democratise flexibility. In our view, whilst many organisations do have policies about flexibility, they don't have the culture to support them. People fear the stigma of asking for and adopting more flexible work practices.
The reality is that many different people are seeking flexibility for many different reasons. There is a commonly held assumption that flexibility is just about people, predominantly women, fitting work around family commitments. However, this does not represent the full picture. Whilst research shows that work/life balance is the biggest reason, other key issues include commuting, leisure or study interests, and caring responsibilities.
A study by Timewise found that 87% of all full-time employees either work flexibly already, or say they want to (this breaks down as 84% of male full-time employees and 91% of female full-time employees). The need for flexible workplaces will only increase with 92% of younger workers seeking this option.
It is critical that we create flexible roles and flexible workplaces, where we remove the stigma attached to different ways of working. We should celebrate and recognise people for their unique contribution and not their hours worked or their office presence.
There are clearly a number of barriers to this change. Policies, technology, trust and management are significant themes that need to be addressed. But the benefits of addressing them are significant:
- Improved talent attraction (CIPD)
- Improved employee motivation (CIPD)
- Diversity driving improved business performance (McKinsey)
- Increased productivity (Unison)
Over the next 12 months, we're on a mission to fast track flexible working within Marketing. We believe this can act as a beacon to drive wider change and create happier employees and more productive workplaces.
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