The right to work flexibly should be enshrined in law, say half of UK employees 

The right to work flexibly should be enshrined in law, say half of UK employees 

As the UK Government’s consultation to reform flexible working regulations came to an end on 1 December 2021, new research reveals that half of UK workers are keen for flexible working practices to be stipulated by law.

Half of those polled said employees should have a legal right to request flexible working arrangements from their first day in a new role. Just 18% are opposed to the changes, with 32% unsure.

Only a third of workers are aware of proposed new legislation which, if introduced, would grant staff the right to request flexible working from day one of a new role. A further two in five are unsure about what the future holds for flexible working arrangements at their organisation, stating they require greater clarity as to whether they will be allowed to work flexibly in the long-term, or if they must attend the office regularly.

A third said their organisation’s culture seems to remain opposed to flexible working, with 17% of workers having experienced at least one remote working request rejection from their employer over the past 12 months.

As many as 36% of employees said they thought people who commute to the office will be favoured for future promotions and pay rises in their organisation. Just under half of all those surveyed, regardless of their remote working status, believe that employees in the office receive better support than those working remotely.

Nikolas Kairinos, CEO and founder of Soffos.ai, who commissioned the research, said: “The UK Government’s flexible working consultation could not have come at a better time, with the so-called ‘Great Resignation’ in full swing. As more members of the workforce begin to return to the office, our findings suggest that some remote workers are feeling sidelined, with many looking to pastures new, in order to enjoy conditions that they may find more suitable. Whether perceived or real, firms must take action to dispel any concerns that remote work is not as valuable as the in-office experience.

“Clearly, businesses still have some way to go when it comes to making agile work arrangements the norm. To do so, they must take a clear line on flexible working policy, as well as finding ways to ensure that all employees receive regular facetime and support, irrespective of their location.

“While the government’s consultation is a step in the right direction, firms must be proactive in driving meaningful change, and I would encourage business leaders to consider how they can do so with technology at their side. Whether it is by investing in new platforms where employees can exchange ideas, providing more sophisticated communication and productivity software, or simply offering regular online catch-ups, organisations must level the playing field and keep valued employees close.”