Hybrid working “different for each employee” as flexible hours rise

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation and labour market analysts Emsi Burning Glass today revealed that 25% of UK jobs advertised in December last year cited hybrid or flexible working, which is up from 19% before the pandemic.

Zurich, for example, has been making hybrid working available since 2019, having originally introduced this to encourage more women to apply for senior positions, which has led to 23% of new female hires being part-time over the past year, compared to 10% in 2019.

Hybrid working structures with flexible hours have been key to helping women and other underrepresented groups effectively operate around other aspects of life, such as caregiving for children or adult residents in need, and boosting productivity of neurodivergent employees.

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“We’ve certainly seen a very strong demand from employees and from candidates,” Zurich UK HR director Steve Collinson told Sky News.

“If we think about the fact that there are over a million unfilled vacancies in the UK, if there’s this very strong demand from candidates for flexibility, for access to things like part time and job share opportunities, if employers don’t have flexibility, then we’re missing out on whole swathes of potential candidates.”

Considering individual needs key to success

Helena Nimmo, CIO of Endava, believes that while flexibility goes a long way in attracting and retaining talent going forward, truly catering for the diversity of the workforce means staying away from “a generic approach to those in drastically different circumstances”.

Nimmo commented: “We must acknowledge there is a risk of reverting to the way things were, and with that there are different generations and groups at risk of being disadvantaged more than others. Unfortunately, it is likely to be precisely those that were disadvantaged prior to the pandemic – working parents, particularly women, who usually have other commitments to manage besides work.

“Businesses can use technology to provide flexibility and address the true complexities of working from anywhere in line with these new employee expectations. Ultimately, leaders must look beyond technology and think more deeply about those using it and how it can be used to facilitate flexible working.

“Now is the time for businesses to look seriously at their set up and implement digital acceleration as a methodology for whatever the right ‘hybrid working’ policy looks like for them, their employees, and their customers.”

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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.