Flex in the North West

Flexible hiring is more prevalent outside London, according to research by Timewise. Amy Schofield talks to Richard Morris of Regus about why this might be, and what the future may hold as the economy grows.


Manchester city centreThe ‘talent bottleneck’ caused by a lack of flexible hiring is something that keeps quality candidates who can’t work the traditional nine-to-five out of the jobs market. According to the first Timewise Flexible Jobs Index, jobs advertised with flexible options account for only 6.2% of all jobs with a salary over £20,000 (FTE). But there’s good news for those searching for flex jobs outside the capital; according to the same research, the flex hiring market is in fact healthier in the North West of England than in London and the South East.

Richard Morris, UK CEO of Regus, a leading workspace provider that allows its own employees to work flexibly, says that flexible working is now more feasible and practical than ever before. “Thanks to changes driven by technology, there are fewer reasons for employers to object to flexible working,” he notes.

Richard says that as the economy recovers and grows, fewer part time roles will be available as more full time roles are created due to an increase in employer confidence. But this means that as the labour market gets tighter, employers must embrace flex hiring to ensure that they recruit high quality candidates. “To harness the full potential of the workforce, employers must provide ways of working for different people with different requirements,” explains Richard. “One of the main reasons that businesses partner with Regus is that it helps them to provide a range of flexible working options for their staff.”


Richard’s advice for candidates in the North West looking for a flexible role is to address your need to work flexibly early on and communicate this to a potential employer who may have their own idea about what flex working means. “Be clear and up front about what it means for each party. Progressive employers will have a clear, well-thought through approach to flexible working,” he says. “Candidates need to think about it from the employer’s point of view and come up with a compelling illustration. Employers respond to what works best for their business, and employees need to show that they can respond to this.”


The following large employers in the North West are harnessing the hidden talent pool of flexible workers and embracing flexible hiring:

  • KPMG has a Tax Centre of Excellence in Glasgow and, because the need for staff in the city exceeded the number of candidates, the company has created satellite offices including one in Manchester. All their tax roles are available with ‘annualised hours’ due to the tax year being busy in some months and very quiet in others. This arrangement often suits people who are looking for flexibility in the school holidays.
  • Regenda is a large property and regeneration business that advertises a range of flexible working options including flexitime, part time, term-time only, job share, compressed hours and occasional home working.
  • Kellogg’s, based in Manchester, regularly advertise part time roles on their site. The company offers employees a range of choices to create an individual work-life balance that works for them. These include part-time working, flexible working hours, summer hours, career breaks, home working and a flexible benefits scheme.