Bridging inequalities through an inclusive approach to flexible working

The right approach to flexible work can pave the way for a more sustainable, productive, and inclusive society, according to a new study.
By: | September 8, 2023

In the ongoing pursuit of a fairer and more inclusive society, the spotlight is gradually falling on the pressing need for inclusive flexible working arrangements.

A report by academics at Cardiff University, led by Professor Alan Felstead of the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research and Data (WISERD), not only underscores the critical role of flexibility in the workplace but also the potential consequences of its absence.

Titled Flexible Working for All: Navigating Challenges and Unlocking Opportunities, the report suggested that the right approach to flexible work could lead to a more sustainable, productive, and inclusive society. Key areas where flexible working can make a difference include sustainable employment, gender equality, inclusivity, wellbeing, and economic productivity.

Despite its potential, the report emphasised that key issues need addressing for flexible work to succeed. Felstead stressed the importance of meaningful conversations between employers and employees to ensure the benefits are realised and that no employee is disadvantaged.

Regulatory differences in different countries also need to be navigated. For example, while the European Union (EU) has introduced working time regulations, the UK is excluded from these because of Brexit. Upcoming UK legislation includes granting employees the right to request flexible working from day one and the potential for more predictable working hours after six months.

READ MORE: WFH most prevalent flexible work arrangement in Singapore

Dr Helen Blakely, another co-author of the report, concluded, “Many employers will be under pressure to implement flexible working, but progress may be slow as changes are reliant on voluntary action due to low unionisation and low collective bargaining. Whatever changes are implemented, a more inclusive approach needs to be taken to improve the working lives of all, including those who cannot work in hybrid or flexible ways.”