Flexibility on the rise

16 October 2020

Flexible working has been a sticking point amongst workplaces for some time. Across a variety of industries, the demand for a flexible working culture - one that acknowledges the responsibilities outside work and the importance of a work-life balance - has been growing. With the sudden onset of mass remote working due to COVID-19, businesses across the globe have been forced to adapt to new ways of operating, proving that when push comes to shove a more flexible model of working is in fact possible. ADP Research Institute’s Workforce View 2020 reveals that 44% of employees say their company now has an official flexible working policy in place, compared to just 24% before the global pandemic.

For some, the advantages of flexible working are clear – reduced commute time, more time spent with family, and flexible working hours. However, it is important to remember that the backdrop to the widespread adoption of a more flexible model of work is a global pandemic, and both life and work related stress can be heightened as a result. In a few short months, much of the world adapted to remote and distributed working, but has the compulsory nature of this shift resulted in more pressure on employees? Or is it the catalyst the flexible working revolution needed?

While flexible working practices have been forced upon many businesses in order to survive, employees have still felt pressure to be physically present in the workplace. According to the Workforce View, 47% felt pressure at the start of the lockdown period, and 26% of employees continue to feel that pressure. If flexible working intends to benefit employee engagement and wellbeing, employees must be empowered to do so and trusted by their organisations. Presenteeism is detrimental to company culture and morale, especially so in a time of crisis, where the pandemic adds an extra layer of stress to daily life. In such times, it is crucial that organisations are supporting their staff to work flexibly without fear of judgement or mistrust. It is highly likely that remote and flexible working will become the norm in years to come, with organisations gravitating towards a hybrid of office and home work to suit their needs.

Flexible working is just one of the topics explored in The Workforce View research. Between October 2019 and early 2020, ADP Research Institute surveyed 32,442 workers in 17 countries across four continents, capturing a snapshot of employee opinion before the pandemic hit. In a quick-pivot response to COVID-19, a subsequent 11,000 workers were surveyed in six of the countries across the same regions, providing a robust picture of worker sentiment immediately before and after the virus took hold. To read the research please visit www.uk.adp.com/wfv2020.