The knock-on effect of this is huge, both for individuals and for society as a whole. In-work poverty, social immobility and career stagnation are all exacerbated by a lack of decent flexible jobs, and the impact on the gender pay gap is well-known.
Driving radical change through in-depth pilot programmes
But making flexibility work for both employers and employees in these sectors isn’t impossible; it’s just much harder. It will take time, resources and radical thought. It will require in-depth analysis of operational barriers, and innovative development and design of new flexible roles. It will need employers to get involved, to work out how these roles can offer two-way flexibility. And, critically, it will need to incorporate robust trialling and rigorous assessment before any solutions are rolled out.
The creation of the Timewise Innovation Unit allows us to do this work, and do it well. Over the next three years, we will run a series of in-depth pilot programmes, in collaboration with employers, trade associations and industry partners. This will see us researching, designing and trialling flexible jobs that suit the operational requirements of a particular sector.
Creating and sharing benchmarks for best practice and job design toolkits
But we’re not stopping there. We’re keen to ensure that the impact of the Innovation Unit is broad as well as deep; there’s no point doing all this work and keeping it to ourselves. So we will be working to pinpoint what Good Flexible Work means within the different roles and sectors. And we will also build a network of change agents – trade bodies, sector leaders and local government agencies – to help us spread the word.
In practical terms, this will involve us creating a series of sector-specific resources, toolkit and guides which will offer practical support to employers who want to act on our learnings. We will also develop Good Flexible Work Standards which set out what decent, two-way flexible jobs should look like, to inform good business practice across the board and catalyse lasting change.
Get involved and help us create Good Flexible Work for all
So if you share our vision for Good Flexible Work for all, why not get involved? We’re fortunate to have an amazing bunch of people on our Advisory Board (see below), but there are many other ways that you can take part in this valuable work:
- If you’re an employer who is facing huge operational barriers to flexibility, talk to us. It would be great to explore the possibility of piloting in your sector.
- If you’re a policymaker, either national or regional, who would like to help us share what we’re learning and encourage others to act, get in touch. I’d be delighted to include you in our network of change agents.
- If you’re a trade association or industry body, and would like to discuss carrying out a deep-dive into flexibility in your field, contact us to start the ball rolling.
It’s brilliant that the argument for flexible working has been won, but Good Flexible Work is still out of reach for too many. I’m excited about using the Innovation Unit to create two-way flexibility in sectors which might otherwise have been ignored; the hard work starts here.