What is flexible working?

What is flexible working?

There is more and more talk about flexibility in the workplace, but what does flexible working really mean? The phrase may conjure a vague sense of a home office and reduced hours. However, flexible working does not mean part-time or temping, while it means much more than simply working remotely.

In fact, its scope is so broad that it can mean something different for everyone. This article explains the key areas involved in flexible working.


Times of day

The time when work starts and finishes can be adapted to personal preference. Rather than pushing through a prescribed 9am-5pm day, ‘flextime’ or ‘flexitime’ allows employees to work at any time of day or night. This has obvious benefits for parents or carers who need time for other responsibilities during the day. But it also allows for the pursuits of hobbies or leisure activities which would not easily coincide with a traditional working day.

Importantly, it also means that employees can work at the times when they are most productive. Early birds can make the most of their creative spurt first thing in the morning, while night owls can start work later in the day.

Times of year

There is also scope for ‘annualised flexibility’ or ‘annualised hours’, allowing the employee to choose what times of year they want to work. This can allow for some say in the timings and duration of holidays. For example, a parent might want to work term-time only.

This might involve ‘core hours’, a set amount of time to work each week, but with flexibility about the rest of the hours. This allows the employee to work less intensely in some weeks when, for example, they need to care for children or dependents, but picking up the hours at other times of year.



Length of working day

A working day can be reduced or extended (see below). A parent might want to work 9am-3pm, for example. This example of a shorter day may well be beneficial for all workers. Recent trials in Sweden suggest a 6-hour work day improves mental health and productivity.

Length of working week

The number of days in a working week can also be changed. There are two main angles for this:


1)Compressed hours.
This would involve fewer days at work but with longer hours per day so that the employee can still complete a full working week.


2)The 4-day week.
This model for the working week was pioneered by Andrew Barnes and is becoming increasingly popular. It works on the premise that a conventional 5-day week includes time that is wasted when employees are distracted or not concentrating. By reducing the length of the week, the same productivity is expected of the employee, but in a more condensed period of time. The model can be summarised with the equation 100-80-100: 100% of the pay for 80% of the hours and 100% of the productivity.



A man talking on a phone while using a laptop




Where you work

Working from home can be a blessing for many people, especially for those with health conditions that require the use of special equipment. However, remote working does not necessarily mean simply swapping your desk in an office for a desk in the guest bedroom. For many, the buzz of an office environment can be motivating, as is the chance to socialise with colleagues during breaks. Working in libraries or other communal working spaces is a possibility, which can be particularly appealing when this means reducing the commute and being closer to home.


Ways you are assessed

Rather than looking at hours accrued, the focus can instead be on the outcomes of your work. This can complement flexitime particularly well: working the necessary hours to get the work done without the requirement to work any long than is necessary. This project-based style of assessment often requires constant communication between workers and employers, collaboratively setting targets and adjusting them if needed.

This model might also mean that annual appraisals and performance reviews become unnecessary, because constant conversations and goal-setting provides the basis for mutual feedback without needing to follow traditional assessment structures.

Flexibility in the workplace is itself a flexible concept. It is a mistake to think of it purely in terms of reducing working hours, although this is a part of it. Location, assessment methods, annual and daily timings – every aspect of the working life can be open to flexibility. The term ‘flexible working’ encompasses all these possible alternatives and in turn allows the individual or the company to make use of a unique combination of these, customised to their specific needs.




All Tags
Academy for Disabled Journalists Academy for Disabled SEO Specialists Accessibility Accessibility information Accessibility int he workplace Accessibility ramps Accessible education Accessible locations Accessible places Acid reflux Adaptive fashion Advocacy AI All Saints Alt text Assistive technology Autism Awareness Blog Bullying Burnout Business Businesses Cancer Candidates Captions Cerebral palsy Characters Charity Charity sector Chronic pain Closed captions Clothes Clothing Cognitive disabilities Comfort zone Communication Companies Company Company Corner Company culture Confidence Confucius Consultant Consultation Content creator Content designer Data talent Diagnosis Difference Digital transformation Disabilities Disability advocate Disability advocates Disability awareness Disability community Disability confident Disability employment Disability inclusion Disability news Disability Policy Centre Disability Pride Disabled Disabled community Disabled people Disabled People’s Direct Action Network Disabled team Disabled-led Diverse Diversity Diversity and inclusion Diversity Recruitment Platform Domestic violence Dysfluency Education Education and resource platform Employment opportunities Empowerment Ethnic minorities Fashion Fashion industry Fathom Feedback Flexible work Freelance Game Gaming Gareth Walkom Garment technologist Gastrointestinal conditions Gem Turner Gender Grant Logan Guide dog Healthcare Homeworking HR Hybrid working Inclusion Inclusivity India Inspiration Intellectual capabilities Interview process Interviews Invisible disabilities Invisible disability Isaac Harvey Isaac Harvey MBE Istituto Marangoni Jack Wills Job descriptions Job interviews Job opportunities Journalism Journalists Learning disability Leeds Leeds trinity university Legislation LGBTQ+ Limb-pelvic hypoplasia LinkedIn LinkedIn influencer London London Fashion Week Long-term health condition Long-term health conditions Mapping days Matt Pierri Maya angelou Meta Metaverse Migrants Motivation Musculoskeletal conditions National Council for the Training of Journalists NCTJ Neurodivergence Neurodivergent Neurodiversity consultant Neurodiversity space Neurotype Neurotypes New Delhi News Non-profit Novos OBS Office environment Partially sighted People Phase Eight Phone calls Physical disabilities Pirate video games Policy Poverty Presentations Primark Processes and systems Public speaking Puneet Singh Singhal Race Raising awareness Registered blind Remote education Remote work Removing barriers Rights School Scoliosis Scope Selection process Self-employed Self-employment Senior staff Sexuality Shaw trust Shaw trust power 100 list Sign language Social mission Social mobility Social-emotional learning Social-emotional learning platform Software Speaking situation Speech differences Speech disabilities Speech impediment Spotlight series Spotlight stories Ssstart Staff Stammer Stammering Stories Stuttering Sustainable change Sweaty Betty Tech industry Tech talent TEDx Tesco Think tank Underrepresentation Unhidden Unhidden Clothing Universities Vanessa Castañeda Gill Victoria Beckham Video editor Video game Vimeo Violence Virtual reality VR Web accessibility Wheels and Wheelchairs Women Work environment Work from home Working conditions Working from home Workplace adjustments Youth Zoom Abc Ability Today Access to work Accessibility in the workplace Accessibility test Accessible work Acting Adhd Adjustments Administrative Adrian lord Advice Advocacy and campaigns Allparty parliamentary group for inclusive entrepreneurship American civil rights movement Android Anglonorman App Artificial intelligence Bad grammar Barriers to work Bbc Benefits Blind persons act Blue badge Blue badge service specialists Care Career Carer Celtic languages Center on everyday lives of families Ceo Cfs Chloe tear Chronic fatigue syndrome Chronic health condition Chronic illness Commodo aute beatae Community Community story Community, community story, founder, feature, accessible work, disability employment gap, making a difference Companies house Compressed hours Computer science Computers Coronavirus Councils Covid19 Crystal mark standard Deaf Design Dialects Dictionary Digital accessibility Disability Disability discrimination act Disability employment gap Disability rights movement Disability services Disabled peoples direct action network Disabled persons employment act Disabled-led organisation Easy read Edit Tag Test 2 Email address Employers Employment English English speakers Entrepreneur Entrepreneurship Epilepsy Equality Equality act Equality and diversity Equality of access Esources, disability, disability services, support services, community story, features, adjustments, social support network Esse vero eum nisi a Eugenics Facebook Feature Features Fibromyalgia First world war Flexi Flexible working Flexitime Flextime Founder Francesco cirillo Freelancing French Gcses Gdpr General data protection regulation Good Good grammar Google Government policy Government support Graduate Graduates Grammar Grammar schools Health Health condition Health conditions Hearing impairment Help And Support Tags History History of language Holistic Ico Impact Imposter syndrome Inclusive entrepreneur network Inequalities Inequality Information commissioners office Information governance Instagram Internet Jacqueline winstanley Laborum Magna moles Language Latin Law Learning difficulties Lexicographers Limited company Local councils Local government Making a difference Marketing strategy Mecfs Medical conditions Medical model of disability Medical vs social models of disability Medicines Mental health Middle english Mindfulness Mlm Mobility issues Molestias quod sapie Multilevel marketing Nam eaque iure aut v National league of the blind Neurodiversity Nihil corporis aliqu Niya Normans Old english Old french Onboarding and retention Online Out of work Oxbridge Parent Passwords Patchwork hub Payment details Planning Planning for work Podcasts Pomodoro Preposition Private schools Psychiatric Psychiatry Punctuation Qui voluptatem debi React Reasonable adjustments Recruitment Remote working Resources Resources and support Rest Retinopathy of prematurity Sales Scam Search engine Second world war Shell shock Slang Sociability Social Cipher Social interactions Social media Social model of disability Social support network Socialising Spelling Spoken language Spotlight series Spotlight stories Standard english Startup State schools Student Students Studying Suffragette movement Support Support services Syntactician Syntax Tag Technology The Disability Policy Centre The elderly Then barbara met alan Trafalgar square Turkish United nations Universal inclusion University University of arts london University of cambridge University of hertfordshire University of hull University of leeds University of oxford Victoria Jenkins Visual impairment War Ways of working West germanic dialects William shakespeare Windsor consultations WithVR Wordpress Work structure Workforce recruitment Working environment Workplace barriers World war one World war two Young carer


By continuing to use this website you are agreeing to the use of cookies. For further details, review our Cookie Policy.

Change Settings