Towards flexible working at all levels of organisations

A recent roundtable on flexible senior roles put forward ideas for how to progress flexible workers up the career ladder.

Mature woman at home office desk with laptop


Employers are likely to allow more flexible working as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic as many continue to work from home or to work reduced hours due to caring responsibilities.

But how much will that extend to and change senior roles? Will there be more part-time senior jobs or more job shares?

A recent roundtable held by our sister site at Schneider Electric with 17 of leading employers looked at best practice in this area.

It said that employers needed to be very clear about what flexible working is and that it takes many forms, whether that is part-time working, remote working, job shares, working different hours, term-time only or some other permutation.

When it comes to recruitment, employers suggested that line managers were key. Hiring managers needed to be trained about flexible working and how they needed to be open to different ways of doing things, rather than being rigid about different forms of flexibility.  The benefits of flexible working for diversity and inclusion, for instance, in tackling the gender pay gap, should be made clear to managers, employers said.

Other points included ensuring that there was a loose framework for flexible working, but one which did not make different forms of flexibility difficult. Hiring forms also needed to be less binary about flexible working so that ways of working that suited individual circumstances could be negotiated.

Employers said it was important to think more broadly about where to advertise and what backgrounds candidates need, for instance, targeting different industries with allied job skills or returners. The language used in job adverts was also key and employers suggested considering omitting desirable criteria.

In order to challenge flexible norms. employers said prominent case studies were important and suggested making all roles flexible unless it is proven that that is not possible. That changes people’s thinking, they said. They also suggested experimenting, pushing back against stereotypes and seeing automation as an opportunity to rethink how roles are done.

The white papers says managers can be helped to role play flexible working negotiations and needed a space where they could talk about flexible working challenges honestly. Share=ing best practice on flexible working from across the organisation and rewarding was also vital.

When it comes to structural reform, employers were encouraged to devise ways to ensure flexible workers are not excluded, be creative about ensuring everyone’s voice is heard, consider job crafting to ensure people are not overworked if their hours are reduced and encourage employees and managers to speak openly about flexible working.

*To read the full report, click here.

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