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The future of work: Embracing flexible working for greater success and happiness

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In today's fast-evolving work environment, the UK Government's recent support for flexible working has marked a big step towards modernising the workforce.

Starting on April 6, 2024, the new code of practice allows UK employees to enjoy more freedom in their working arrangements from their first day at their jobs. This code as set out in the Employment Rights Act 1996, makes it easier for employees to ask for changes in their work schedule or location right from day one.

At CIVIC, we've adopted a fully remote work model from day one, which shows how being flexible at work can greatly help a company succeed. This approach not only allowed us to recruit from, and keep talented people from a much wider geographical location, but also showed an understanding of the modern worker's need for a work life that balances intricately with their personal life.

The big impact of flexible working

The UK Government's flexible working measures are a response to a growing demand for work-life balance and are designed to benefit both employees and employers alike. A research study by Harvard Business School(1), has shown that companies embracing flexible working see a rise in productivity and can save on real estate costs. Remote work allows employees to live where they prefer, often leading to financial benefits by moving to less costly areas. This arrangement is a win-win: employees enjoy more freedom and companies benefit from happier, more efficient teams,​ thereby boosting business competitiveness​.

Major updates in flexible working legislation for employees

The new legislation includes several key protections for employees, such as:

  • The ability to make two flexible working requests within any 12-month period, up from the current one
  • A reduction in the time employers have to respond to these requests, from three months to two
  • The elimination of the previous requirement for employees to wait for 26 weeks before making their first flexible working request, allowing new hires to request flexible arrangements from day one of employment
  • A requirement for employers to consult with employees before refusing a flexible working request, thereby encouraging a more collaborative approach to work arrangements​ (Gov UK)​​ (Personnel Today)​

A wider pool of talent, a gateway to success

The legislation aligns with our philosophy that flexibility is key to attracting and retaining a diverse and talented workforce. By allowing employees to request flexible working arrangements, and recruiting for positions as 100% work-from-home from the outset, we've been able to position ourselves as an attractive employer for individuals seeking not just a job, but a working environment that accommodates their lifestyle, well-being, and personal responsibilities.

This forward-thinking policy not only enhances our appeal as a modern employer, but fosters increased employee loyalty and job satisfaction. The gratitude that comes from being able to work in a flexible, home-based setting often leads employees to exhibit higher levels of engagement and productivity, reciprocating the trust and autonomy afforded by the company. Moreover, this model supports a healthier work-life balance, crucial for mental and physical health.

Preparing for a future of flexibility

As we and other forward-thinking companies have shown, the transition to flexible working practices requires more than just policy changes; it requires a shift in corporate culture and mindset. The success in leveraging remote work to its advantage underscores the importance of being adaptable and responsive to the evolving expectations of the workforce.
In light of the UK Government's legislative changes, companies should review their flexible working policies to ensure they align with the new requirements. Training for managers on handling flexible working requests promptly and effectively will be essential to foster a positive and inclusive workplace culture.

The UK Government's endorsement of flexible working, mirrored by our own practices, brings about a new era in the workplace, where flexibility is seen not just as a benefit, but as a fundamental right. This transition represents a significant opportunity for companies to reinvent how they operate, attracting a diverse and talented workforce, by offering the flexibility that modern employees demand. As we move forward, the integration of flexible working practices will be key to building more resilient, innovative, and inclusive workplaces.