This is despite the monumental rise in the amount of people working from home over the past year. 

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has found that, outside of the shift to remote working, flexible working options for staff have actually decreased over the past year.

Comparing working arrangements at the start of the pandemic (April-June 2020) to later on in the year, the research found homeworking was the only flexible arrangement which was used more during the pandemic.

Conversely, the use of part-time working has marginally fallen from 28.3 per cent to 27.6 per cent. In a similar fashion, flexi-time has also decreased from 12.7 per cent to 12.6 per cent throughout the six month period.

The use of annualised hours, where employee hours are calculated on an hourly basis as opposed to a weekly basis, has also decreased from 6.4 per cent to 6.2 per cent.

On the opposite side of this, the CIPD state that homeworking – as expected- has risen throughout 2020, increasing from 7.8 per cent to 10.1 per cent.

The CIPD warn that this could create a “two-tier workforce”, causing divisions amongst those who are permitted to work from home and others that are not given flexible working options.

As such, the CIPD is urging employers to increase access to a range of flexible working options, to address inequalities in the workforce and give people a greater say over not just where they work but when.

Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD, shares his view of why implementing a full range of flexible working options is important:

There’s been a huge shift to homeworking since the Coronavirus pandemic and this has proved to be positive for a lot of people, with many organisations now looking at how to provide more choice in where people work as we come out of the lockdowns.

But our analysis shows a concerning downward trend emerging for all other forms of flexible working. If the use of other flexible working arrangements continues to fall this will drive many questions about fairness and equality in the workplace for those whose jobs require them to be in a place of work.

Homeworking must not be the only flexible working arrangement available, and employers should take action to offer and encourage the uptake of a broad range of options that give opportunities for everyone to have more choice and flexibility in how they work. More flexible working in all its forms helps to attract and retain people with a broad diversity of needs and expectations about how they work, thereby fostering more diverse and inclusive workplaces. It can also be good for wellbeing and productivity.


*The CIPD undertook this analysis utilising the ONS Labour Force Survey which questioned 74,832 people between October to December 2020.