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The Timewise Flexible Jobs Index 2018

Our fourth annual report on the number of quality jobs advertised with flexible working options reveals steady, but slow, year on year growth. Timewise calls on businesses to step up their use of flexible job design, to make better use of available talent and drive greater productivity.

"Systemic change is needed to turn the dial on the availability of quality flexible jobs."Key conclusions

The proportion of quality jobs (paid £20k+ FTE) which are advertised with flexible working options is only 11%. Supply falls well short of the extremely high demand – an estimated 87% of employees want to work flexibly.

The result of the mismatch between supply and demand is that people who work flexibly, particularly part-time, often get ‘stuck’ in their current roles. There isn’t a flexible jobs market for them to go to. And even at their current employer, it’s hard for flexible workers to progress, as roles they might want to move up to are not openly advertised as flexible. As a result, it’s common practice for flexible workers to trade down to get the flexibility they need, or even abandon their careers entirely.

The proportion of quality flexible jobs has increased over the four years that Timewise has produced this Index, from 6% in 2015. But the rate of progress is far too slow – it’s creeping up by only one or two percentage points per year.


Implications for employers

  • Skills drain: The tendency of flexible workers to trade salary for flexibility, or even abandon their careers, results in a significant loss of skills to business and the economy.
  • Missing out on candidates: The gap between the proportion of people who want to work flexibly (87%) and the availability of flexible opportunities at the point of hire (11% for quality roles above £20k FTE) is causing a talent bottleneck. Employers are cutting themselves off from a proportion of the candidate market, by not stating their openness to flexibility in their recruitment advertising. These ‘lost’ candidates include some of the very best available talent, and the problem is at its worst at higher salary levels.
  • Exacerbating the gender pay gap: Although many groups of people want to work flexibly (including older workers, millennials, carers and people with health concerns), mothers remain disproportionately disadvantaged by the scarcity of quality flexible jobs. To progress women through the middle stages of their careers, and address gender equality issues, employers need to openly promote the availability of flexible working in senior roles. 



So, what can employers do?

  • Understand job design: Employers who take a more proactive approach to job design, understanding when, where and in how much time a job can be done, will be better placed to attract and progress the best and widest possible talent.
  • Build flexible career pathways: Having adapted to flexible job design, employers can motivate and support their flexible workers to progress their careers, by internally promoting roles as being open to flexibility. Neglecting this issue causes a failure in the talent pipeline.
  • Adapt to flexible hiring: To adapt to hiring people on a flexible basis, employers simply have to ask themselves: ‘Can this role be worked flexibly in any way?’  Then, if the answer is ‘yes’, say so clearly in their recruitment advertising. This doesn’t commit an employer to making the role flexible, it just means being open to discussion for the right candidate.

Research report downloads

2018 Timewise Flexible Jobs Index 2017 Timewise Flexible Jobs Index 2016 Timewise Flexible Jobs Index 2015 Timewise Flexible Jobs Index

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