Flexible and hybrid working – where employees may be afforded more control of where, when and how to work – appears to be here to stay. The pandemic has made us question the way we design, think about and practice work and we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reset the way we work for good.
However our own research and others’ suggests that there is significant pushback, access is unequal and positive results are uneven. Employees from higher paying jobs are more able to work from home. Less than half the population (47%) worked remotely during the peak of restrictions in April 2020. There are also geographic inequalities, 57.2% of people in London conducted part of their work from home during the lockdown, compared with just 35.3% of people in the West Midlands. In this context, it is inappropriate for remote working to dominate discussions of the future of work, or fairness in flexibility.
Companies and policymakers are starting to realise there is a need to adapt to new patterns of working – the ILO and WHO have recently published a technical brief asserting that crucial changes are needed both from policymakers and organisations to enhance the wellbeing, health and safety at work. The report highlights the connection between flexible working and extension to other new protections as the world of work transforms, such as the right to disconnect.
And the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has recently concluded a consultation ‘Making flexible working the default’, which proposes the right to request flexible working from day one of employment. This is a light touch approach but invites deliberation on turning the ‘right to request’ into a ‘right to have’, which would remove an employer’s ability to turn down a request for flexible working.
Join this APPG on the Future of Work event to explore key questions when it comes to flexible working, including:
Chair: David Davis MP
This hybrid event is being held at the House of Commons, with limited capacity to join in-person, which will be reserved for members of the APPG on the Future of Work in the first instance. The event is open for all to attend via Zoom, and a recording of the session will be available shortly after.