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From conducting our 2019 salary survey, we can see that the topic on everyone’s lips is flexible working. But what does flexible working mean and how can you take advantage of it in your workspace?

In essence, flexible working is a way of working that suits employees’ needs. It can mean anything from flexible hours to working from home or even a job share. What some people don’t know is that all employees legally have the right to request flexible working. Whether or not it’s granted is another story.

Today’s workforce is dynamic and diverse. The freelance economy has grown by 25% in the last 10 years and 1 in 7 of the UK work force is self-employed. This is why companies need to be adaptable and open minded about changing work trends.

Flexible working is a popular way to improve people’s work / life balance, and help them prioritise their health and wellbeing. Individuals have different needs, both inside and outside work. Flexible working reflects that.

It could be argued however that slashie or multi-hyphenate careers aren’t always a choice. The gig economy is growing but it’s thought that milennials would prefer the security of a full time job. The writer and podcaster Emma Gannon has termed these people as multi-hyphenates, people with potfolio careers and multiple income streams. She believes that flexible working makes people more secure rather than less, as it provides time to pursue other interests or side hustles.

Digital nomads are taking advantage of opportunities to work remotely and travel the world. They can work anywhere with a laptop and a wifi connection. They can save money by living in less expensive countries, making it a great option for independent businesses and start-ups.

Flexible working isn’t always cast in a positive light. Research shows that 18% of working mothers have been forced to leave the workforce after being denied flexible working. A large number of flexible workers are known as obligated workers. This term covers people combining work with raising a family or caring for the elderly. They want the flexibility to manage personal and professional commitments. Obligated workers are often pushed towards more portfolio careers, relying on multiple income streams to make up their salary.

Something that’s been talked about with great anticipation is the potential for a four day week. Almost half of Brits are in favour and there is emerging evidence that a four day week can boost productivity for bosses and happiness for workers. Glasgow company, Pursuit Marketing has recorded a 30% increase in productivity since introducing the four day week.

Tom Skinner, co-founder and managing director of Go Up, introduced voluntary 4 day weeks in 2015 and has been delighted with the results. He told clients that ‘in exchange for not having contact with your account manager for one day in the working week, you would have four days of being able to contact them at their well-rested best.’

Interestingly, originally the four day week was compulsory but after a year he decided to make it voluntary. Surprisingly people opted to work a 5 day week most of the time, only using the four day week once a month.

Major players has recently introduced unlimited holiday and productivity has not been adversely affected. If anything it’s been favourable. The Wellcome trust are the biggest company to commit to the four day week, believing it could provide for a healthier workforce.

Overall, it appears that when handled correctly, flexible working could be brilliant for employees wellbeing and productivity. Here’s hoping the four day week idea catches on soon.