Tool launched to help managers discuss flexible working

A new tool has been devised by equal parenting experts to help managers have open discussions with employees about different ways of working after Covid.

woman at an interview


Equal parenting experts have devised a Working Preferences Tool which is designed to help managers and employees have conversations about  appropriate working arrangements after Covid-19 working restrictions come to an end.

The tool has been devised by Equal Parenting Project at the University of Birmingham which says discussions do not guarantee flexible working opportunities, but they do signify a willingness by all to explore options which could work for everyone.

It assumes that those involved are working within parameters set by employment law along with any existing company policies and recognises that the outcomes of discussions will be subject to business requirements, which may change over time, or in different roles, different contexts or due to different operating needs.

The tool also recognises that working preferences for employees may be very personal and emphasises that employees need not disclose detailed information about their personal circumstances, although it says “an open and frank discussion where possible can lead to outcomes that fit the needs of the employees and the business more closely”.

The tool is published alongside a Hybrid Working Brief that provides guidance and recommendations for organisations wishing to move towards a hybrid working model following Covid-19 and the results of data collected throughout the pandemic. This shows that many working parents want to work from home in the future to spend more time with their children, although slightly fewer said so after the third lockdown than after the first one. The data also shows the majority of managers thought flexible working increased productivity and that a third said their organisation was downsizing the amount of office space after the pandemic.

Other statistics show:

– 38.8% of managers reported their organisation consulted employees about working preferences before making the decision around the amount of office space available

– 25.2% of managers reported their organisation as repurposing office space with fewer individual offices, and 15.1% reported the space being repurposed for events, workshops etc.

– Many employees are using flexible working policies informally and this can have consequences for the level of support they receive from the organisation

– Most managers reported their organisation would be supporting more flexible working requests in the future

– Many organisations are likely to become more supportive of job shares, homeworking and part time working for senior roles in the future.

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