Flexible Working: Predictions For 2021

Since March of this year, we’ve seen a seismic shift in working culture courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic. Flexible and remote working have become the norm for many employers and employees. But what does 2021 hold for the future of flexible working? Here are our predictions for 2021.

Many jobs can be done on a flexible basis, that has been proven. Many mums and dads have benefitted from this. Without time spent commuting and with the help of Microsoft teams or Zoom, parents and carers have been around more for their children. 

Ian Dinwiddy, Inspiring Dads

Ian Dinwiddy is a man who knows a thing or two about the changes to working culture. He runs Inspiring Dads, a coaching service for men who want a better work life balance. Asked about the future of flexible working, he said: 

“Covid has exposed the myth that widespread remote and flexible work will be the death of business. There are challenges around wellbeing and connectivity. But, those firms who embrace the new normal will continue attract the best talent and break the paradigm of presenteeism.”

Ian Dinwiddy, Inspiring Dads

As Ian says, it seems hard to believe that we’ll ever go back to the traditional Monday to Friday nine to five job. A COVID-19 vaccine may make it more viable for employees to return to the workplace. However, will we return to pre-COVID-19 work patterns? I spoke to a few experts to find out what they think the future holds for flexible working.

Cheney Hamilton Of Find Your Flex

Where better to start than on your doorstep? I asked Cheney Hamilton, founder and Managing Director of Find Your Flex, DaddyJobs.co.uk’s parent company, what trends she was seeing. Buckle up, because the trends Cheney reports are staggering:

  • Male audience up by 47% in just 30 days
  • Spikes in the 25-34 and 45-45 age groups
  • A whopping 87% of users being ‘new’ as opposed to ‘returning’ visitors in the same period. Which Cheney said: “Shows active/new job seekers are in the ascendancy versus the ‘browsing’ job seekers.” 

Asked about whether more organsiations were advertising roles flexibly, Cheney said:

“We are seeing an increase in ‘non-traditional’ industries entering into the flexible working space. Moving away from White Collar office environments, into Engineering, Healthcare and Retailers.  We are also seeing a marked uptick in diversity and inclusion led flexible working briefs for roll out in 2021.”

Cheney Hamilton, The Find Your Flex Group

Interestingly, Cheney mentioned diversity and inclusion. Some groups, such as those in the disabled community, stand to gain if flexible working becomes the norm. Find Your Flex has been collecting data from users. It does indeed show that users are incredibly diverse. The audience is made up of a range of religious, educational and ethnic backgrounds to name just a few. 

Working Families

Working Families is a charity that promotes flexible working. Catherine Gregory, Head of Marketing and Communications. Asked if home working was likely to become permanent, Catherine said: 

“It’s clear that there’s no going back to business as usual after the massive shift to home working and flexible working precipitated by COVID-19. Employers have realised that many more jobs can be done on a flexible basis than they’d thought before.”

Catherine Gregory, Working Families

She added that productivity hadn’t “taken a hit,” something evidenced by charity’s recent employer member survey. Might we see working from home two or three days a week becoming the norm? 

Catherine said she hoped employers wouldn’t be too prescriptive as some people preferred office working, while others didn’t. 

“The important thing,” Catherine added, “is that employers are looking at outputs as opposed to time spent physically in the office.”

She added that when Working Families surveyed parents about their preferred working patterns, only 1% wanted no flexibility. She made the very important point that flexible working wasn’t simply about home working. It could mean part-time, compressed hours and so on.  

Han-Son Lee, Founder Of The DaddiLife Fatherhood Website

Han-Son said the initial lockdown allowed lots of new flexible working opportunities to emerge. However, whilst this is working well for most parents, he made the important point that maternity discrimination got worse. 

Looking forward, Han-Son believes that having been given a taste of what a flexibly working world could look like, parents will work together. 

“I believe what will start to evolve are ways by which parents can ally with one another. Ways they learn from each other and take the effective steps forward not as individuals but as a group. The world of ‘parenting and flexible working’ is a very different one to ‘non-parents and flexible working. Dads (and mums and carers) need to put strength in numbers behind their need and opportunity around flexible working. This will make for much more sustained change and underline the vast importance of proper flexible working beyond just Covid.”

Hanson Lee, DaddiLife

Some Striking Similarities

Based on what everyone said, some common themes definitely emerged. The culture of presenteeism will be consigned to history as managers focus on outputs and results, for example. 

Second, everyone was in agreement there will be no return to the old ways of working. The change has happened. Huge numbers of people use sites like DaddyJobs.co.uk to both find jobs or advertise roles shows that flexible working is here to stay. 

The challenge will be to ensure all groups, not just parents and carers, have access to flexible roles. It’ll therefore be interesting to see what the new year brings.  

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