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Manifesto for change: building a flexible workplace

The results of a quantitative survey among flexible workers, followed up by qualitative interviews with business leaders. The research led to the development of a manifesto for change for UK employers.

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Our enduring social aim at Timewise is to enable women and men to find the flexibility they need in their careers without reducing their value in the workplace.

Professional services firm Deloitte also shares this aim – providing a working environment where everyone is able to enjoy a successful career alongside a fulfilling life outside work. It is this shared aim that led Timewise and Deloitte to produce our Manifesto for Change.

To prepare our manifesto, a research survey was conducted amongst 1800 professionals working in the UK. The survey was followed up by qualitative research interviews with 12 business leaders.

Key findings from the research are shown below:


The survey identified several perceived barriers to flexible working, including outdated workplace cultures and attitudes that perpetuate the ‘flexibility stigma’. It’s clear that even when business leaders want to accommodate the flexible working needs of their employees, there is a gap between what is said at the top and how that translates to everyday working life.


Because the barriers to embedding flexible working are primarily cultural, success must go beyond a programmatic approach. Both the survey respondents and our interviewees told us that real change only comes when leaders challenge workplace culture and dismantle practices that are no longer fit for purpose.

Manifesto 2


Based on the survey results, we developed a Manifesto for Change. We want this to be a blueprint for attitudes and actions across UK organisations. We want business leaders to recognise that getting flexible working right will drive success in their business. We want them to share best practice and be brave in trying new approaches.

The following five manifesto actions are what we believe will accelerate workplace change, making it fit for today’s flexible workforce:

  1. Leaders must provoke cultural change – challenge the status quo
  2. Flexible working to be gender neutral – emphasise the value of male and female role models
  3. Design flexibility into jobs as standard – ask “why not” rather than “why”
  4. Influence the attitudes and actions of managers – provide them with permission and support
  5. Collect the data – measure the success of flexible working

Published May 2018

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