Is there more to flexible working than just remote work?

Is there more to flexible working than just remote work?
Is there more to flexible working than just remote work?

posted 03 Apr 24

Although statistics show that there has been an increase in remote working following the pandemic, remote work has in fact been a concept since the 1970s. On average, UK employees are in the office 1.4 days per week. When you compare this to 3.8 days a week on average before the pandemic, UK workers are going into their employer’s premises 37% less than they did pre-Covid. 

In light of the changes to flexible working legislation in April 2024, we wanted to discuss the multitude of flexible working arrangements employees can consider. Outside of the popular remote or hybrid work models, there are many different options – some of which you may not have considered to be flexible working. 

What types of flexible working are there? 

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to flexible working arrangements. It can depend on the nature of the business the company conducts, what job you do and the type of schedule that is best for you. We look at the different patterns you can choose. 

  • Remote work 

With its rise in popularity, let’s start with remote work. This is where you work in a different location from your employer’s office or premises. While some people work from home, remote working enables you to do your job from anywhere. This could be a coffee shop, library, or hotel (if you travel).   

There has also been a rise in the number of co-working spaces, where you can rent a desk and work alongside others who aren’t necessarily your colleagues. Many gyms are now offering remote working spaces as a perk for members.  

Visit our job board for the latest remote working opportunities.  

  • Hybrid work  

Fast becoming one of the most popular forms of flexible working, the latest ONS data shows that 28% of employees adopt hybrid work models.  

Hybrid working allows you to divide your time between your employer's premises and working remotely. Typically, businesses have flexible work policies around how many days employees need to be on site, this is often two or three days in the office and the rest from home.  

Search for hybrid roles across the UK on our online portal. 

  • Part-time work  

This is where you do less than full-time hours. Typically, if you’re on a part-time contract, you complete fewer days than the standard five. Wages are pro-rata – you’ll be paid a proportion of what the equivalent full-time salary would be.   

Check out the latest part-time vacancies from our clients.  

  • Job sharing  

If your company requires a full-time employee, but you need part-time hours, job sharing can be a great option. Instead of performing all the hours yourself, you split them with a colleague – meaning you’re both able to work part-time, and the company has complete cover across the week as they would with a full-time employee.  

  • Temporary and contract work  

If you like variety, travelling or are looking for an introduction to a specialism, temporary, or contract working could be for you. Contracts are usually for a fixed term (for example three or six months). Whereas with temping, there isn’t usually an official end date, or it is for a very short amount of time such as a couple of weeks. Find out more about temping with Search here.  

Contract work can also be a great option for anyone who is self-employed and likes to move from project to project. However, make sure you’re familiar with IR35 if you’re carrying out contracts through a private services company, limited company or other intermediary. Check out our comprehensive IR35 advice and guidance here.  

  • Shift work  

If you need a role outside the standard nine-to-five model, shifts might be for you. They can be evenings, nights, early mornings and weekends. Some businesses operate on fixed weekly or monthly schedules, while others operate on a rota basis.  

Certain sectors are more inclined to operate on a shift model, including many of our specialisms – Nursing, Hospitality, Call & Contact Centre, Logistics, Driving, and Construction & Property.  

  • The gig economy  

Instead of a set salary or hourly rate, as a gig worker, you’re paid for the jobs or ‘gigs’ you carry out. The sector relies on digital platforms to match providers and customers. Jobs include drivers, couriers, delivery people, dog walkers, and pet sitters. You can do gig work on its own or around other roles.  

  • Compressed hours 

This type of flexible working allows you to complete full-time hours over fewer days. Instead of a pro-rata salary like with part-time jobs, you’ll still be paid the same wage. 

However, you are likely to do longer days when you compress your hours. For example, you could work your contracted time over four days instead of the standard five.  

  • Four-day week  

Businesses with this model allow their employees to work four days for the same pay as five. The company usually sets the number of hours you work each day.   

For a typical seven-to-eight-hour workday, you can expect to work anywhere between 28 to 32 hours over the four days.   

  • Staggered hours  

This is when you start and finish at different times than your colleagues. It could be to miss rush hour or because of personal commitments. Some companies (especially those that operate 24 hours a day) choose a staggered approach for all their employees, so they have cover across the whole day.

  • Flexitime  

Flexitime allows you to choose when you start and finish. Usually, there are core hours that you need to be in the business, but you can decide how you work around them. For example, if the core times were 10 am to 2 pm and you needed to complete seven and a half hours a day, you could do 7 am to 3 pm or 10 am to 6 pm with a half-hour lunch break.  

  • Annualised hours  

Instead of working your contracted hours each week or month, you add them together for a total across the whole year. This allows you to do your job at a time that suits you best. Some weeks you may work more, and some you may work less. Similarly to flexitime, there can be core hours.

  • Term-time work 

Term-time work is when you work during the school terms. The most popular sector using term-time work is education. This model also supports parents who want or need the flexibility to spend school holidays with their children.  

  • Phased retirement  

There is no longer a default or forced retirement age in the UK. If you’re over 55 (this will rise to 57 from April 2028 onwards), phased retirement allows you to gradually reduce your hours over time. You would then take part of your pension to make up for the reduced income.   

How do you ask for flexible working? 

In the UK, all employees have the right to ask for flexible working. At present, if you live in England, Scotland and Wales and want to submit a request with your current employer, you must have worked for them for 26 weeks beforehand. However, from 6 April 2024, changes to the flexible working legislation mean that employees can request flexible working from their first day in a new job.  

Under the new legislation, employers must:  

  • Respond to flexible working requests within two months, compared to three months previously.  
  • Explain the reasons behind the decision before they reject any request for flexible working arrangements.  
  • Accept two statutory requests for flexible working within 12 months, as opposed to one request previously.   
  • Accept requests from day one of employment versus after 26 weeks previously. 

You can find more information on the Government website.   

How do you find flexible working? 

  • Check job adverts  

If a job is part-time, remote or hybrid (or there are options to carry out it this way) for example, it should be included on the job advert or description – so you know what type of role you’re applying for.  

Many companies list that they have flexible work policies when advertising a job. However, it might not specifically state what type of flex schedules they offer, as they may be open to discussions about what would be best for you. If you’re unsure, get in touch with the company and ask, or state the arrangements you’re looking for on your applications or cover letter.  

  • Use job board filters  

Most online job portals have filters to allow you to select the type of job you want. Our job board allows you to choose the contract type (permanent, contract or temporary), working pattern (full-time, part-time or flexi-working) and working arrangement (on-site, hybrid and remote working).  

Work with Search 

By partnering with a dedicated recruitment agency like Search, you’ll be paired with a recruitment specialist who will work with you to understand what job and type of work you’re looking for. When a client lists a vacancy with us that ticks all the boxes for you, we’ll be in touch to discuss the role and put you forward. Sign up with Search today.