What makes for better flexible working?

Employers should do more to gather evidence of the growing demand for flexible working by asking people about their priorities at job interviews in order to get line manager buy-in for culture change, according to a new Workingmums.co.uk white paper on flexible working.

Future of Flex, Flexible Working, Mcdonalds


The white paper is based on a roundtable held on 3rd October at McDonald’s headquarters in London which brought together diversity and recruitment experts from 15 organisations. The aim of the roundtable was to share ideas and promote innovation in flexible working.

One of the participants was construction firm Morgan Sindall which had noted a real shift in candidate priorities towards flexible working and personal development. Whereas salary and benefits used to be top, but now it is often flexible working and personal development.  Being able to show line managers that flexible working was high on the agenda using hard data was important in changing line managers’ attitudes, said HR Director Dawn Moore.

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The roundtable was chaired by Andy Lake, editor of Flexibility.co.uk who has developed a cross-industry smart working code of practice the aim of which is to make flexible working the norm. He emphasised the importance of creating a flexible working culture.

The white paper covers the whole discussion and ends with a series of takeaways. These include the importance of communicating what flexible working is in its broadest sense and that it means different things to different people and showing how it is good for business because it opens up different talent pools and so counters groupthink and encourages diversity of thinking.

Employers discussed the need to challenge ideas about how we work and have conversations about how to promote effective flexible working at team level. It was also vital to embed unconscious bias training so it is not simply a one-off session. Getting line managers on board was another big issue, with the provision of support and rewards for inclusion singled out.

Other suggestions included:

  • Breaking down job tasks and taking a creative approach to flexibility
  • Unpicking the recruitment process and challenging jobs that are not advertised with any form of flexibility
  • Asking people what hours they prefer at interview
  • Training hiring managers in unconscious bias and in addressing flexible working
  • Considering job shares as a way to advance part-time workers
  • Considering resource planning to ensure people are not working over their hours regularly.

The white paper can be downloaded free by filling in the form below.

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