Flexible working was on the rise pre-2020, but it’s safe to say its popularity has boomed as a result of the pandemic. But with so many different terms being used it can sometimes be difficult to keep up! In this blog post, we jargon-bust some of the most commonly used flexible working terminology.
First up, what do we actually mean by the term ‘flexible working?’ Flexible working is a catch-all term that that covers any kind of working pattern that doesn’t fit the defined standard (typically Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm). Put another way, GOV.UK describes it as ‘a way of working that suits an employee’s needs’. There are many different types of flexible working that we’ll cover in this blog but, generally, flexible working covers:
- Where people work – such as working from home or across multiple locations
- When people work – such as flexible start and finish times
- How often people work – such as part-time or job sharing
Homeworking is one of the most common forms of flexible working and covers where an employee performs their role. It is very much ‘what it says on the tin’. Employees work from home rather than travelling into an office or other location.
For many, homeworking became the only way of working during the pandemic as offices across the country (and, indeed, the world) closed their doors. But now, as offices are starting to reopen, many employees are keen to combine homeworking with working from other locations. Which leads us to…
Hybrid working again covers where an employee performs their role. In this scenario, employees split their time between home and the office (or another location/s). Looking forward, we predict hybrid working will become the most popular type of flexible working as staff seek the ‘best of both worlds’. They get the flexibility and ease of working from home (no commute!), with the collaboration and interactivity that comes with working from an office building.
How people split their time will be very much down to the business and employee to agree but one thing is for sure – hybrid working isn’t going anywhere soon. A BBC Survey of the 50 largest businesses in the UK showed 43 respondents are encouraging staff to work from home at least some of the time. Mark Read, chief executive of advertising firm WPP said: “We’re never going to go back to working the way we used to work.”
The term ‘flexible hours’ is all about when people work. In the past, working 9am to 5pm has been the norm (immortalised in the Dolly Parton classic!). But as people look to work more flexibly, it’s inevitable that people’s hours will start to shift too.
When it comes to flexible hours, the degrees of flexibility between businesses can vary substantially. Many companies have ‘core hours’ (ie. 10am – 4pm) where employees are required to be available at set times to meet the needs of a business – but can make up the rest of their hours at any time. Some businesses operate a flexitime system where staff members can complete their hours at any time within a set framework (ie. 7am – 7pm). Others operate a completely flexible approach where employees can work at any time of the day or night.
Contracted hours covers how often an employee works and has many different terms included within it. We’ll break a few of them down:
- Part-time – an employee works less than the standard 37 hours per week
- Term-time – an employee is contracted to work a certain number of weeks per year, usually when schools are open (typically around 39 weeks per year)
- Job-share – a role is split between two members of staff. The role can be split equally with both employees working the same amount of hours per week, or one may work more hours than the other
- Compressed hours – an employee typically works a full working week in fewer, longer days
Desk-sharing is often referred to as ‘hot-desking’. In a desk sharing environment desks are used by different people at different times and there are no (or very few) fixed desks. Instead, employees find an available desk, plug in their equipment and get to work. Desk sharing is becoming increasingly popular due to the rise in flexible working practices, particularly hybrid working. If employees are coming into the office less frequently, fewer desks are needed. This presents a real opportunity for businesses to review their office design and use the space saved in new and different ways.
COVID-19 has shown businesses and employees alike that we can work flexibly and still perform our job roles to required standards. It’s also given people a taste of the benefits that flexible work can bring. But many of us have missed the office too, so true flexible working could and should include the option to spend some time in a work setting.
If you’re looking to embrace flexible working in your workplace, then there really is no better time. The Government’s Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) which allows you to write off the whole amount of an asset in the year of purchase, providing 100% tax relief reduces from £1,000,000 to £250,000 from 31st December 2021. The AIA covers the construction and renovation of non-residential structures and building – such as office space.
Get in touch to discuss how smart office design can help or take a look at our previous office fitout projects to see how we’ve helped other businesses.