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Recent work

Timewise carries out projects and pilots across a wide range of sectors. We research, create and deliver flexible working solutions for clients of all shapes and sizes. Here are some recent examples.

  • Construction in crisis: can flex alleviate the multiple problems?

    Chronic mental health concerns. Gender stereotyping. An ageing workforce. Timewise worked with four industry partners to find out if flexible working can rise to the challenges of the construction sector.


    Tackling work-life balance, in a world of back-to-back shifts far from home

    The construction sector is a difficult nut to crack for flexible working. Project delivery often necessitates unsociable shift times to avoid disruption to traffic or business; it also requires staff to work at different sites around the country, and to put in long hours to meet profit-linked deadlines. 

    The harsh working patterns inevitably impact recruitment. Young people are not attracted to the sector – nearly half of construction workers are aged 55+. Women make up less than 15% of the workforce. And there is a toll on mental health – 1 in 4 workers have considered taking their own lives

    Supported by Build UK, we partnered with four major construction companies (Bam Construct, Bam Nuttall, Skanska and Willmott Dixon) to pilot new working patterns. The project proved that flexible working is possible, even on-site. Read the report here or the one-year-on review here.

  • Building flexible working into teaching

    Schools are struggling to hold on to their teachers and replace the ones who leave. We’re designing and piloting flexible roles that could help tackle the staffing crisis.


    Addressing shortages in the teaching profession

    It’s no secret that the teaching profession has a recruitment and retention problem. Long hours, large workloads and the opportunity for better pay elsewhere are all taking their toll. As a result, many schools are struggling to achieve a full staff team.

    Clearly, schools will never be able to match corporate salaries. But what they can do is give teachers more control over their time and their work-life balance by increasing flexible working options. Our 2019 research project explored this in some detail.

    More recently, building on our previous findings, we partnered with three multi-academy trusts to explore how best to design flexible teaching roles, and found that a proactive whole-school approach can be transformative, creating a supportive and more motivated culture.

  • Fair Flexible Work for Scotland

    Commissioned by the Scottish Government, a major new programme by Timewise aims to scale up flexible working, making it fair and inclusive for all workers in Scotland.


    In 2019, the Scottish government commissioned Timewise to undertake a feasibility study to determine how to stimulate a better-quality flexible jobs market in Scotland. Their aim was to tackle the structural inequalities experienced by parents and carers in the workplace. Our recommendations led to the launch of a major new Timewise programme to create Fair Flexible Work for Scotland, which began in 2020, at the height of the pandemic.


    The programme provides training and guidance for employers about how to develop sustainable, inclusive flexible working, as well as support for employees. It also see us building a network of employer and employee facing change agents, and providing them with training, tools and resources to catalyse a more systemic approach. And its third strand is a new Scotland-focused Flexible Jobs Index, created to track the jobs market and highlight the need for change.

    During the first year, almost 500 organisations accessed our webinars and more than 1,600 received our toolkits. Our change agents advised 1,200 employers and over 1,000 employees. We’re now expanding our programme in Scotland for a second year to widen our network, and track its impact on unlocking and creating access to flexible jobs. We’re also piloting a similar network in London. We will share our learnings from our work in Scotland when the programme ends in 2022.

  • Tackling the staffing crisis within nursing

    With more nurses leaving the profession than joining, we’re exploring how flexible working could help attract and keep these critical front-line employees.


    Improving work-life balance for nurses

    The staffing crisis in the NHS has the organisation close to breaking point. Large numbers of staff are leaving, with many citing work-life balance as the main reason. Recruitment is challenging, vacancies are left unfilled and agency costs are spiralling as a result.

    Flexible working is central to tackling these issues, but introducing it is complex. Among the challenges are the need for staff across a 24-hour cycle, the shift-based nature of many NHS roles, and the need for a balance of specialties present at all times.

    Our action research project saw us exploring the barriers to improving work-life balance for nursing roles, and designing and piloting ways to overcome them. We piloted a new, team-based process for creating rosters and delivered three key recommendations for stakeholders. We published our report on this work in September 2019.

  • Covid-19: redesigning the workplace

    The pandemic-led explosion in remote working has transformed the way we work. Our free programme of webinars and toolkits helped employers turn the crisis into an opportunity to create future-fit workplaces.


    Redesigning the workplace for a post-Covid world

    In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic ripped up the rulebook of what normal work looks like. Whole companies and sectors moved to remote working. 40% of medium to large employers said they would permanently increase remote working options, and 13 million people said they intended to ask to hang on to their flexibility once the crisis passed.

    However, there’s a big difference between offering remote working at speed, in a crisis, and delivering a sustainable, fully flexible culture.  So, with the support of Barclays Life Skills, Trust for London and Smallwood Trust, we created a programme of webinars and toolkits for employers and their teams, offering practical support on how to redesign roles and workplaces for a post-Covid world.

    During the first six months of the pandemic, our team ran a series of webinars, attended by 460 employers from a range of industries and organisations. Our employer guide, setting out how to approach flexible job design, was shared with over 800 employers, and our employee toolkit reached more than 13,000 people. We have also captured the wider learnings from this unusual time and will share them once we have completed our report

  • Boosting diversity & inclusion in the investment industry

    Extreme long hours are endemic in the high pressure world of savings and investments. But does it have to be this way?  We’ve looked at whether flexible working is possible, and how to build a more inclusive workforce.


    Promoting a more inclusive culture for savings and investments firms

    The investment and savings profession employs more than 90,000 people. Its high-pressure culture can be prohibitive for many groups of employees. Women in particular, who do well at entry level but struggle to climb the career ladder (the gender pay gap is 31%). But also fathers of young children, older workers, and employees who develop health conditions.

    Lack of flexible working has specifically been identified as a key barrier for women trying to progress into senior roles, particularly when they have to balance work with caring responsibilities. A few pockets of good practice are emerging, but the pace of change remains slow.

    To improve access to ‘smart’ and flexible working, Timewise ran a one year programme in partnership with the Diversity Project (set up by a group of industry leaders to improve inclusivity). We worked with four investment and savings firms to develop and pilot new approaches to working patterns. Download our insights summary to see what we learned.

  • Developing part-time apprenticeships

    The new focus on apprenticeships was designed to widen access and tackle in-work poverty. A lack of flexible options has left key groups excluded. We’re working to change that.


    Making apprenticeships open to all

    In 2017, the government introduced the Apprenticeship Levy, to facilitate the creation of more, better apprenticeship schemes. These schemes are seen as an excellent way to bridge the gap between school and work, as well as tackling in-work poverty among key groups.

    However, many people within these groups are unable to access these schemes because they are only available on a full-time basis. This includes older workers, single parents or those with young children, and those with disabilities.

    Following initial research with the Learning and Work Institute, we are now working with Camden and Hackney councils and NW London Maternity Services to design and pilot new models for part-time apprenticeships. We will deliver our recommendations late in 2019.

  • Creating flexible pathways in retail

    The lack of flexibility in management roles can leave flexible workers trapped on the shop-floor. Our Retail Pioneer Programme seeks to explore pathways for flexible progression.


    Helping flexible workers progress to management

    Flexibility in working hours is one of the main reasons people choose to work in retail. But while part-time and flexible roles may be available on the shop floor, the lack of similar opportunities in store management leaves many retail employees unable to progress.

    Following an initial pilot with Pets at Home, we partnered with five retailers – B&Q, Cook, Dixons Carphone, Tesco and the John Lewis Partnership to explore the issues, and create workable solutions, through our Retail Pioneer Programme.

    We started by exploring the barriers to flexibility at store management level, and then identified the strategic, cultural and operational changes needed to overcome them. Our report on this project, was published in May 2018.

  • Designing flexible schedules for carers

    Social care has a reputation for being flexible-friendly, but does the reality stack up? We’re investigating how to help care providers develop truly flexible scheduling.


    Improving flexibility through a team based approach

    53% of the social care workforce work less than full-time. And in theory, because they’re on zero hours contracts, carers can choose both their schedules and the amount of hours they work each week. But is the job as flexible as it sounds?

    Our Caring by Design project saw us working with carers, managers and sector experts to explore what flexible working means within social care, and how it could be improved.

    We then explored structural constraints that stood in the way of true flexibility, and went on to pilot potential solutions with a community support provider. Our report on this project was published in May 2017.

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