Flexible working has increased five-fold in the last 20 years

The number of people working ‘flexible hours’ has increased five-fold in the last two decades. That is according to an analysis of working trends by the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo), which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

According to the 1999 Labour Force Survey conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the percentage of people working flexible hours in the UK was 9.5% at that time. Recent statistics from CIPD, however, show that this number has drastically increased, with 54% of workers currently having the option to operate outside of typical nine-to-five office hours.

Despite this huge development in improving work-life balance, professionals still want more autonomy. The 2019 UK Working Lives Report reveals that two in three professionals (68%) would like to work flexibly in a way that is not currently available. 

Commenting on the analysis, Ann Swain, Chief Executive of APSCo, said:

“It’s great to see that employees are being offered greater flexibility and autonomy over their own work. This certainly is a step in the right direction in ensuring that the workforce is motivated and engaged in meaningful work. The advancements of technology over the past 20 years have no doubt played a significant part in making this possible. The collaborative software now available means that team members can communicate and work remotely with ease.”

“Flexible working also plays an important role in bringing equality to the workplace. People with disabilities or caring responsibilities, for example, often are unable to commute to the office or work conventional hours, therefore the option to work part-time, compressed hours or remotely is a necessity. As more employers begin to see the opportunities associated with flexible working, we can both boost diversity and inclusion and help end the dire skills shortages which are impacting many sectors.”

Simon Blockley, CEO of talent management consultancy, Guidant Global, added:

“Through offering the option to work flexibly, businesses can access a wider, deeper and more diverse pool of talent to drive increased innovation, creativity and profitability. Here at Guidant Global, 82% of our entire workforce have flexible working arrangements in place, allowing mums to fulfil their career goals, dads to spend more time with their children, neurodivergent people and people with physical disabilities the options to work in ways better aligned with their individual needs. We are also working with a number clients to ensure that this approach to flexible working – and the associated benefits – are replicated across the wider business landscape.”

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