Last week, I spoke at an event put on by Mummyjobs.co.uk and Daddyjobs.co.uk, and one of the topics was the changing shape of the workforce post-Brexit -- and how flexible working could get us through.
With nearly 3m EU citizens in our workforce (which has been climbing) and an ageing population whose talent we are losing from the workforce, plus an increasing demand for care and nursing, we can't afford to stick to traditional workstyles. We need to mobilise some of the people who are currently economically inactive or underemployed, but who would like to work if they could shape the roles to their human lives.
We get the best from our colleagues when we employ them as whole people. My team's passions and interest fuel their work and engage them on a personal level with their workmates. People are happier at work and better at their jobs when they're given the space to be human. Sometimes that means adjusting a start or finish time, or taking a longer break, or working from a different place.
And flexibility isn't just about mums making it to child pickup time. Or dads. It's about getting someone to choir practice, letting someone work from home so the boiler can get fixed, sending a creative team to work at a cafe for a change of scene, or going somewhere private to crank out a 40-page proposal. It's about letting people have an extra hour in bed on their birthday. This type of flexibility costs a business very little to offer, but could make people more productive -- and it certainly makes them more loyal.
Not all of the work we do suits sitting in an office chair, with 70 people around us (who will probably distract us).
Our rigidity to this way of working may be harming our chances at achieving the diverse workforces we all say we want. Traditional attracts traditional. It will be the businesses who focus on what they really need and what they can be flexible about who will get the talent that's out there waiting to come back to work.
Many employers have claimed that a shortage of women in senior positions was one of the main drivers behind their pay gap, but as seniority and salaries increase, the likelihood of being offered flexible working diminishes for employees. According to Timewise’s Flexible Jobs Index 2017, just 11.9% of full-time-equivalent jobs that paid between £20,000 and £34,999 were advertised as being open to flexibility, compared with 20.4% paying between £14,000 and £19,999.