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A flexible future for Britain?

7 in 10 managers believe flexible workers are an underused talent pool. Yet candidates who can’t work traditional office hours still face significant barriers in the UK. How fluid and accessible is the UK flexible jobs market? This research explores how receptive employers are to candidates who need flexibility.

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With 8.7 million UK full time workers wanting to work flexibly in 2014, this research explores managerial attitudes towards flexible working. We interviewed 500 managers, all responsible for key hiring decisions, to find that while the majority have positive views about flexibility, few take positive action on it. And many managers recognise that there are barriers in their organisations to doing so.

Key findings:

Managers own views about flexible working

Among the managers who responded to our survey:

  • 7 in 10 managers believe flexible workers are an underused talent pool
  • 9 in 10 are open to discussing flexible working options during the recruitment process
  • Nearly half believed that the roles they’d advertised in the past year could have been filled by a candidate on a flexible basis.

Perceived organisational barriers to flexible working

Despite managers being open to flexible workers, our research found both structural and cultural challenges that prevent flexible job design and discussions surrounding flexible working. Among the managers who responded to our survey:

  • 75% had never had any training on how to handle flexible working enquiries
  • Only 30% said that their organisation was open to offering flexible working in managerial-level job vacancies. This dropped to 14% at director level and 9% at leadership level.
  • 25% said that flexible working does not tend to be offered for roles with key responsibilities.

Our recommendations

Timewise recommends a more transparent recruitment process to better reflect the possibilities of how a role can be worked. Additionally showcasing successful examples of flexible working will address the stigma.


Published in 2014

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