A poll by Working Families has collected data which shows that two thirds of employers have noticed an increase in flexible working requests by their male employees. The poll included a small sample of 26 UK employers who were asked how they managed the numerous challenges posed by the global pandemic. Experts say the results show that the increase in homeworking due to the pandemic may have reduced the stigma sometimes associated with men requesting flexible work arrangements.
The poll also suggested that there might be long term changes to working patterns which survive the end of the pandemic. More employees are expected to work flexibly or remotely for at least part of their working week. It was noted by employers that flexible working can attract a wider range of employees to their business. Some employers said office working would be a thing of the past now that remote and flexible working patterns had been proven to work so well without any negative effect on productivity or client service. 25 out of 26 employers said productivity had been the same or better during lockdown. Some felt that the pandemic had simply fast forwarded a move towards this kind of flexibility in the workplace.
Many employers are keen to hold onto the silver linings that lockdown has produced long after the pandemic is over. The pandemic continues to cause huge disruption and anxiety for employers and employees alike. If the long-term consequence of the pandemic is a cultural shift to a position where flexible working is normalised, without any impact on results, that will be positive both for working parents and for business.
Read the briefing at www.workingfamilies.org.uk.
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