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Is flexible working here to stay?

One of the unexpected benefits of the lockdown has been how well working from home has fitted in seamlessly to most people's lives and there is strong evidence, that a large number of us would like flexible working to stay.

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Many bosses were never 100% on board with home working

There has been a big shift towards flexible working in the pandemic so people could continue to work. Pre-lockdown just 65% of parents and carers had flexible working opportunities, compared to 84% in lockdown. Now, looking to the future, 9 in 10 parents and carers are calling for their workplaces to continue to offer flexible working.

Working from home can decrease stress levels for some of us

Maintaining a good balance between our work and home lives is key for our wellbeing and mental health. If this relationship becomes unbalanced, many of us can experience stress, anxiety and we can begin to suffer from burnout. Research from the mental health charity, Mind, found that 48% of people have experienced mental health problems in their current work role. And it's not just your mental health that can suffer if you work too many hours. Long working hours have also been linked to stress and potential heart problems. Working long hours can also effect your diet and alcohol consumption. Many people that work long hours have a poor diet and can consume more alcohol to relieve stress.

The Green light for flexible working

For some parents, getting a balance has been hard throughout the COVID-19 pandemic when they've been trying to juggle home schooling and working from home, at the same time. However, what this has shown is that flexible working patterns can be adopted in many jobs, when previously, it wasn't thought possible in many careers. Whilst the kind of flexible working, parents have experienced during lockdown has been far from ideal, what it has done is prove that flexibility can be unlocked in many more jobs than previously thought.

It would be fantastic if the government could help to ensure that the progress made around flexible working, is extended and maintained. Flexible working is good for us personally and it's also good for the environment. Less commuting means less cars on the road, which means less pollution. It could also mean less rubbish from takeaway coffee cups and lunch containers as we all eat at home more.

This in turn could help employers to harness the increases in productivity, talent attraction, and diversity that flexible working could bring to the UK economy. Being the last person left in the office shouldn't be the mark of success, working long excessive hours doesn't always mean the highest productivity.

A survey of parents and carers found that the key areas that require improvement are:

  • More autonomy to flex their hours

  • More flexibility over where they work from

  • A cultural shift in attitudes towards flexible working

Let's hope that attitudes towards healthy, productive working will have a real shakeup and bring about real change for us all, which hopefully will result in a happier, less stressed workforce. Amen to that.

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