Companies are more open to part-time and remote work, study finds

More and more UK organizations have shown themselves open to employees working from home or part-time. Photo: Getty

The majority of companies have become more flexible regarding employees working from home after the coronavirus pandemic reshaped the world of work.

Employers in the UK are more willing to facilitate part-time work and other forms of flexible working as viable options for their business, according to research from the Cranfield School of Management and CBI Economics.

The figures showed that the furlough scheme, which allowed companies to bring staff back to work part-time and put the rest of the time on furlough, has changed companies’ perceptions of working practices.

Of the 208 companies surveyed in February, 45% said using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) helped line managers learn how to design and manage part-time work more effectively.

Post-COVID, 62% of line managers in the study believed they were “more willing” to consider requests for part-time work from staff.

The CBI survey also shows that 96% of organizations were “more flexible” about where their employees work and 87% about how they organize their working hours.

More than half of respondents expect remote and flexible working to increase in their company over the next two years, 60% and 58% respectively. While 46% also foresee an increase in part-time work.

Read more: Working from home is the new normal in the UK

Data from the Office for National Statistics revealed that 26% of workers worked part-time before the pandemic, some to meet the needs of their employer and others to better balance work and personal obligations.

A recent analysis by the ONS found that the proportion of workers who mix working from home and going to the office rose from 13% in February to 24% in May.

Anna Leach, Deputy Chief Economist at CBI, said: “We know that the future of work is a key priority for our members, who are aware of their employees’ renewed focus on work-life balance and the desire for more flexibility around the location and organization of their work, in a very tight labor market context.

“These results show that changes in work practices and attitudes towards them are well underway. It is particularly encouraging to see that this change in attitude is associated with positive financial situations for companies, the majority of representatives of organizations surveyed saying their organization’s financial well-being was good or very good, and is expected to remain positive for at least the next two years.

Read more: The number of people working from home has tripled since the pandemic

Clare Kelliher, professor of work and organization at Cranfield, added: “The flexible element of the furlough scheme has effectively marked a ‘forced experience’ of part-time work for many employers who had little previous experience of the part-time work.

“As is always the case with any forced situation, it can be a very different story when life returns to ‘normal’, but these survey results suggest that the practical experience of trying part-time work helped overcome some of the hurdles for employers around its feasibility and how to implement it in practice.”

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