Is flexible working reserved for senior staff?

Flexible working seems to be linked to seniority and higher salary as just under three-quarters of senior managers or directors enjoy this style of work compared to under half of the junior-level roles.

This was found by the Modern Family Index 2020 conducted by Working Families and Bright Horizons. It found that 71 per cent of senior staff and directors work flexibly whereas only 48 per cent of more junior employees take part in flexible working.

More than two-thirds of parents earning over £50,000 reported working flexibly, compared to 42 per cent earning £15-20,000. Parents wish to adopt this type of work as 77 per cent of working parents have said they want to work flexibly.

Still, half of the employees feel that their employer cares about their work-life balance, which is up from 42 per cent in 2015.

Those who work from home complain that the boundaries between work and home become blurred.

The 2020 Index reveals that 44 per cent of parents check emails or do other work in the evening.

Under half (47 per cent) of working parents reported that technology has blurred the boundaries between work and home, whilst 25 per cent said that technology has not affected their work-home boundaries.

In October 2019, Buffer, a software application for the web and mobile found that employees who work flexibly or remotely are struggling with unplugging from their jobs and loneliness. John Hackston, head of thought leadership at The Myers-Briggs Company, a business psychology organisation believes employees’ lack of ability to disconnect is of concern to the wellbeing and productivity of the workforce.

The Index found that nearly half of parents working remotely said it had led to them working for more hours in the day.

Working parents hold the opinion that they have to work extra hours to “manage unwieldy, poorly designed jobs” with 60 per cent reporting that working extra hours is seen as part of their company’s culture.

Jane van Zyl, CEO of Working Families, said:

The research makes clear that jobs need to be ‘human-sized’. Employers who design roles that can be done in their contracted hours and encourage ‘switching off’ will feel the benefit of happier, healthier workers. Requiring employers to be proactive about offering flexible and part-time roles could be a catalyst for better job design. This is what we believe will ultimately deliver a better work-life balance for parents and carers.

Denise Priest, director of employer partnerships at Bright Horizons, said:

The tide is slowly turning in favour of family-friendly workplaces. But many employers could do more to ensure they are retaining talent and minimising attrition. Stress and burnout are frequent dangers, especially as technology blurs the boundaries between home and work. Technology can be a wonderful enabler, but when it means employees don’t feel they can switch off in the evenings and weekends, inevitably family life suffers.

This report was put together by asking the opinion of 3,000 UK workers and working parents.