During this particularly hot summer, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has urged employers to allow staff to be “more flexible in their working arrangements” in order to keep themselves cool and more productive.
The high temperatures might help fuel Helen Whately MP’s efforts to pass a flexible working bill in Parliament. The Conservative MP is calling for flexible working to be the default option for workers, rather than individuals having to request it.
As well as the high temperatures, school holidays also mean that summer is a time when many want to adopt a more flexible work/life balance in order to look after their children who would normally be at school. Those parents who work but are not able to do so in a flexible manner, often have to make the choice between working and paying for expensive childcare. The introduction of flexible working would allow them to look after their children with more ease.
The increased appetite for flexible and freelance working options is supported by research from ETZ. In a survey conducted across 2000 Brits, they found that:
Many Brits may have the desire to work in a flexible capacity, but unfortunately it is not an option for all. All employees in the UK have the statutory right to ask for flexible working arrangements, but, according to The Modern Families Index by Bright Horizons and Modern Families, more than a third of parents have said that it is simply not an option in their place of work.
In fact, it appears that many parents are subject to presenteeism (the act of staying in the office past contracted hours). The Modern Families Index found that 78% of parents are working beyond their contracted hours. Of those who put in extra work, 60% report that doing so is necessary to deal with their workload and over half (52%) said that working extra hours is part of their organisation’s culture.
ETZ is of the opinion that employers need to be malleable and offer flexible working as temperatures soar in the UK making it hard for many people to work in a crowded office. Increasingly hot weather often means that productivity goes down as a direct result of working in hot environments during the warmest hours. This is especially true for those who do not work in places with robust air conditioning.
The research shows that for many people flexible hours is more valuable than a pay rise and that for 43% of Brits it is the most important factor for them when choosing employment. This is especially pertinent for parents and anyone who has dependants they need to look after as childcare can be very costly and may be an unnecessary expense if parents have the option to work flexibly.
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