Tags: employment law, flexible working, HR & Development...

Are our ideas about flexible working stuck in the 1950s? Tracey Eker, CEO of our partner site Flexiworkforce.com, explains why flexible working should be embraced by organisations.

At http://www.flexiworkforce.com/, we’re tired of the outdated assumption that flexible working is only for working mums.

True, women are still more likely to be the primary carers of their children, meaning that access to flexible work is essential if we’re eventually going to eliminate the glass ceiling that prevents women from reaching board level and achieving equal pay.

But flexible working is the future, and should be seen as being more than something that is only beneficial to mums. Working dads who are active in caring for their children also benefit from a working schedule which is more accommodating of family commitments. The search for work-life integration is now a major factor in men requesting flexible working arrangements.

Additionally, as more and more of us opt for a freelance or ‘portfolio’ career, job seekers are increasingly reliant on flexible work in the form of short contract roles. The benefits of portfolio working are numerous, and cultivating a diverse range of skills is a solid way to ‘recession-proof’ your career. The uptake of portfolio careers is only set to increase in the future, with the millennial generation being identified as a ‘generation of contractors’. Others groups who have a strong need for flexible work include professional athletes and sportspeople, as well as ex-servicemen who are in the process of adjusting to civilian life.

Flexible modes of working are also very popular with workers in their 50s, 60s and 70s. On average, workers in their 60s reject the typical 35 hours for a much more manageable 24, offering both a secure income and time to socialise outside of work.

For the next 15 to 25 years, in most developed countries the ‘baby boomer’ generation will be reaching the previous default retirement age, and many will leave the workforce.

Employment rates for older people have been on the increase since 2001. The employment rate for 50- 64 year-olds has increased from 62% in 2001 to 67% in 2013. However, the ‘demographic time bomb’ means that in order for the economy to remain stable many more older workers will have to remain active for longer.

In order to respond effectively to this exodus of talent, UK businesses must recognise the value of mature workers to their organisation and develop methods of retaining and engaging them. For this reason, finding new ways to engage with 50+ workers simply makes good business for the majority of organisations.

The current skills shortage is worsening, meaning that employers must be constantly on the lookout for ways to attract and retain the best of the best in order to keep afloat. Flexibility in the workplace is undervalued by employers who don’t fully understand the power of offering a little choice in hours and working conditions.

As flexible working is the future of employment, businesses must learn to be transparent and honest about the availability of flexible working in their organisations in order to remain competitive.