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Flexible working and wellbeing

In a report published in January, the CIPD stated that “The labour market is expected to remain tight in the period up to, and after, the UK’s exit from the European Union.”

While we’re not ones to be drawn into debating politics (publicly at least!), we were keen to look into how employers plan to attract and retain the talent that could make a difference to their organisation.

The answer could lie in flexible working.

For clarity, the Government have released their own definition of what flexible working is, as although it’s a hot topic, it seems to have many different guises.

There are different ways of working flexibly

Job sharing

Two people do one job and split the hours.

Working from home

It might be possible to do some or all of the work from home or anywhere else other than the normal place of work.

Part time

Working less than full-time hours (usually by working fewer days).

Compressed hours

Working full-time hours but over fewer days.


The employee chooses when to start and end work (within agreed limits) but works certain ‘core hours’, for example 10am to 4pm every day.

Annualised hours

The employee has to work a certain number of hours over the year but they have some flexibility about when they work. There are sometimes ‘core hours’ which the employee regularly works each week, and they work the rest of their hours flexibly or when there’s extra demand at work.

Staggered hours

The employee has different start, finish and break times from other workers.

Phased retirement

Default retirement age has been phased out and older workers can choose when they want to retire. This means they can reduce their hours and work part time.

Stigma around flexible working remains, with many employers citing a reluctance to pay people to watch daytime TV and be generally unproductive. The topic was even recently brought up in the House of Commons by MP Helen Whately, who argued that unless employers had a sound business reason for having specific working hours, firms should introduce flexibility to every job.

  • “The 40-hour, five-day working week made sense in an era of single-earner households and stay-at-home mums, but it no longer reflects the reality of how many modern families want to live their lives” BBC

That being said, it’s predicted that by 2020, 70% of the workforce will experience flexible working.

So are employers correct? Does productivity dip while employees are working out of the office?

We decided to dig into our own data and see what the impact of flexible working has on people’s wellbeing and their productivity. 

Using data from 3826 workers in the UK, when we specifically looked at flexible working, we found the following:

  • Our data is showing that the fears are unfounded; give people the autonomy and trust to manage their own workload and their work-life integration and they will be more productive.
  • People who have the option to work flexibly are 2.5% more productive than those who do not have the option to work flexibly. They are doing more work!

The benefits continue to stack up. Wildgoose anonymously surveyed employees across 114 companies and discovered that:

  • Over 39% of the people surveyed who work flexibly see a noticeable improvement in their mental health. Workplace Insights
  • They also report that larger companies are seeing the benefit of cost-saving when it comes to reduced need for desk-space. 76% of companies with over 100 employees surveyed offered flexible working, citing businesses such as Barclays who have implemented a formal policy when it comes to “Dynamic Working” – with 59% of employees taking them up on this and 87% feeling able to approach the topic with their manager.

Robertson Cooper’s holistic approach to creating more Good Days at Work helps you join up all aspects that influence wellbeing in your organisation, and this is just one of them. 

Contact us to discuss how you can start creating more Good Days at Work for your employees and take a truly strategic approach.