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Prioritizing the wellness of employees can prove to be beneficial for the organization. A 2023 report by Randstad on the state of work-life balance worldwide has revealed the value an employee puts on maintaining a satisfactory work-life equilibrium.

  • 78% of the employees claim they have a good work-life balance
  • With 94% of the employees stressing the importance of work-life balance
  • 61% claimed work-life balance is significant and would influence their decision of joining a company is such an option wasn’t placed on the table.

With the collective push for improved work-life harmony, the UK has emerged as a crucible of innovative work structures. As companies become increasingly cognizant of employee well-being, flexible working models are gaining unprecedented momentum. A study from the National Library of Medicine has shown immense benefits of maintaining a healthy work-life balance for both the employer and the employees, as it directly impacts job performance, job satisfaction, and enhanced productivity.

In this blog, we'll delve into UK employees' flexible working models and how UK employers are adopting them to offer their employees jobs and lifestyles that seamlessly blend professional aspirations with personal commitments. 

For those on both sides of the employment equation—whether you're an employer keen on fostering a positive work environment or an employee seeking a harmonious work-life rhythm—this exploration promises to offer a fresh perspective on the work paradigms in the UK, highlighting strategies that champion both productivity and well-being.

Understanding the flexible working bill UK

Merely half a decade ago, flexible working in the UK was perceived as a premium benefit provided by only the most forward-thinking employers. Data from 2016 indicates that a mere 8.7% of job advertisements highlighted flexible roles.

Fast forward to today, and the landscape has dramatically shifted. Recent research by Sonovate reveals that 58% of UK businesses now extend some form of flexible working. This marks an astonishing growth of 566% within a span of just seven years.

1. An overview of the Flexible Working Bill

Achieving Royal Assent, the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill 2023 revolutionizes the rights of UK employees.

The main thrust of this legislation is to make flexible working an inherent right from the commencement of employment rather than an earned privilege.

2. Key features of the Flexible Working Bill UK

  • Immediate entitlement: previously, an employee would need to serve for at least 26 weeks before being eligible to request flexible working. This duration has now been scrapped, enabling workers to submit their requests from day one.
  • Broad definition of flexible working: The bill acknowledges various models, including part-time work, term-time schedules, flexi-time arrangements, and compressed hours. Additionally, it encompasses diverse working locations, be it hybrid models, entirely remote setups, or even working from a different country temporarily.
  • Reduced obligations for employees: Unlike the past, where employees had to illustrate the potential impact of their request on the company, the new legislation eliminates this requirement, making the process more straightforward.
  • Enhanced employer accountability: Employers must now hold a conversation with the employee before refusing any flexible working request, ensuring transparency and understanding. The timeline for responding to such requests has also been shortened from three months to two, and employees are now allowed to make two such requests within a 12-month timeframe.

3. Implementation timeline

While the bill has achieved royal assent, it's slated for full enactment sometime in 2024. This gives companies ample time to realign their policies and ensure they are in compliance with the new regulations.

4. Implications for employers

It's essential to understand that the bill doesn’t mandate employers to approve all flexible work requests. However, it emphasizes the importance of dialogue, requiring employers to discuss and elucidate any denials with the requesting employee.

5. Potential benefits for the business landscape

Apart from the evident advantages for employees, the bill also offers numerous benefits for employers:

  • Talent attraction and retention: a flexible working environment can be a significant draw for potential employees. With nearly 9 million full-time workers expressing interest in flexible work, businesses that adapt will likely have a competitive edge in recruitment.
  • Reduced turnover: companies that genuinely attempt to accommodate their employees' work preferences may witness increased employee satisfaction and subsequently, lower turnover rates.

The UK's Flexible Working Bill signifies a progressive move towards a more inclusive, adaptable, and modern employment landscape. By placing employees' well-being and preferences at its core, this legislation may well be a game-changer in redefining the future of work in the country.

What does flexible working in the UK look like?

Flexible working in the UK refers to a variety of work patterns that differ from the traditional 9-to-5, Monday-to-Friday routine. The concept has evolved over the years, influenced by technological advancements, changes in legislation, and shifts in cultural attitudes toward work-life balance. 


  • Employees in the UK who have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks or more have the legal right to request flexible working. Employers must consider these requests in a "reasonable manner."
  • While employers can decline a request, they must provide a business-related reason for doing so.
  • The growth in the adoption of flexible working arrangements has also been partly influenced by various legislative moves, such as changes in parental leave rights and the right to request flexible working.

Benefits of flexible working in the UK

Flexible working in the UK offers several benefits to both employees and employers:

1. Enhanced work-life harmony 

Flexible working allows individuals to orchestrate their work around the rhythm of their lives, creating a harmonious melody where personal and professional responsibilities coexist in perfect balance.

2. Reduced commuting stress 

The daily grind of rush hour traffic and crowded public transport fades into the background, as flexible working reduces the time spent commuting, liberating individuals from the shackles of stress-inducing travel.

3. Improved well-being 

The freedom to choose when and where to work fosters a sense of control over one's life, bolstering mental health and overall well-being. It's a tapestry of contentment, woven from the threads of reduced stress and increased autonomy.

4. Diverse talent pool 

Employers can cast their nets wider, tapping into a diverse talent pool spread across the UK. This enriches the workforce with varied perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds, fostering innovation and creativity.

5. Cost savings 

Companies can thread the needle of cost efficiency, as flexible working reduces overheads related to office space, utilities, and other operational expenses.

6. Increased productivity 

The UK's tapestry of flexible working isn't just about comfort; it's also about productivity. Many find that they can tailor their work environment to suit their needs, resulting in improved focus and output.

7. Workforce retention 

Offering flexibility is akin to weaving threads of loyalty, as employees are more likely to stay with organizations that acknowledge and accommodate their personal circumstances.

8. Empowerment and inclusion 

Flexibility weaves a tapestry of empowerment, enabling individuals of various abilities, circumstances, and needs to participate fully in the workforce. It promotes inclusivity, ensuring that no thread in society is left behind.

Types of UK employees flexible working models

Flexibility in the workplace is like a spectrum of opportunities that allow individuals to align their work with their lives in unique and innovative ways.

Here are some distinctive types of flexible working arrangements that empower individuals to achieve a harmonious work-life balance

1. Remote roaming 

This arrangement goes beyond traditional remote work. It allows employees to work from various locations, not just their homes. They can choose coffee shops, co-working spaces, or even travel while staying productive.

2. Results-only work environment (ROWE) 

ROWE focuses on the outcomes rather than the hours worked. Employees have the freedom to manage their time and tasks as long as they meet their goals. 

3. Job sharing 

Two or more employees share the responsibilities of a full-time position. This promotes collaboration, diversity of skills, and allows each worker to have more time for other pursuits.

4. Compressed workweek 

Employees work longer hours on fewer days, often fitting 40 hours into a 4-day workweek. This gives them more consecutive days off for leisure or personal activities.

5. Flextime 

Flextime lets employees choose their start and end times within certain limits set by the employer. This accommodates varying personal schedules and preferences.

6. Project-based contracts 

Workers are hired for specific projects or tasks rather than traditional full-time roles. This offers greater control over workload and the ability to pursue multiple projects simultaneously.

7. Term-time working 

Common in the education sector, this approach allows employees to work during school terms and take extended breaks during holidays to spend time with their families.

8. Shift sharing 

Employees have the flexibility to trade shifts with colleagues to accommodate personal commitments or preferences.

9. On-demand freelancing 

Workers engage in freelancing or gig work, allowing them to select projects based on interest and availability, offering the ultimate flexibility.

10. Hybrid work 

A blend of remote and in-office work, giving employees the choice to balance face-to-face interaction with the convenience of working from home.

The future of flexible working in the UK is expected to see several key trends

1. Hybrid work models 

Many UK companies are likely to adopt hybrid work models, allowing employees to split their time between working from the office and working remotely. This balance provides the flexibility that many workers have come to appreciate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

2. Remote work tech 

As remote work becomes more prevalent, there will be continued investment in technology to support it. This includes improvements in video conferencing tools, project management software, and cybersecurity measures to ensure the safety of remote work environments.

3. Flexible schedules 

Employers are increasingly recognizing the value of flexible schedules. This might involve staggered start times, compressed workweeks, or allowing employees to set their own hours within certain boundaries to better accommodate individual needs and preferences.

4. Co-working spaces 

Co-working spaces are likely to remain popular as workers seek flexible alternatives to traditional office environments. These spaces offer a professional setting with the flexibility to choose when and how often to use them.

5. Focus on well-being 

Employers will likely place a greater emphasis on employee well-being, offering mental health support and resources to help workers manage the challenges of remote work, including isolation and burnout.

6. Remote hiring 

Companies may increasingly hire talent from anywhere in the UK, or even globally, as remote work eliminates the need for proximity to the office. This can lead to a more diverse and geographically distributed workforce.

7. Increased autonomy 

Flexible working often means greater autonomy for employees in managing their own tasks and schedules. This trend is likely to continue, with employers valuing outcomes and productivity over strict oversight.

8. Sustainability 

There may be a growing focus on sustainability, with companies encouraging remote work to reduce the carbon footprint associated with commuting and office spaces.

Work-Life Balance in UK

Work-life balance is basically about how folks handle their time and energy when it comes to their job and personal life. It's about finding that sweet spot where you can do your work stuff without neglecting your family, pals, and hobbies.

In the UK, people are getting more clued up about how important this balance is. Companies are trying to be more understanding, offering flexible hours, remote work options, and paid time off for vacations. They want to help their employees manage the work-life juggling act.

Brits really treasure their free time. They make sure to take breaks, chill out, and hang with loved ones. The government has rules to make sure folks don't work themselves to the bone.

But let's be real, it can still be a struggle for some in the UK, especially in demanding jobs. The pressure to be a superstar at work sometimes makes it tough to unplug and enjoy personal time properly.

UK companies that have nailed flexible working

Here are real-life examples of companies that have adopted flexible working practices for their UK employees:

1. BT (British Telecommunications): As early as the 2000s, BT was pioneering flexible working initiatives. They introduced practices such as remote working and flexitime, which not only helped reduce their real estate costs but also improved employee satisfaction. Over the years, their flexible working initiatives have evolved and adapted to the changing landscape.

2. Unilever UK: Unilever has been an advocate of agile working for years. Their UK offices offer shared spaces, quiet zones, and collaboration areas to cater to various work styles.

Employees are also given the choice to work remotely when it suits them, as the company places an emphasis on work achieved rather than hours spent in the office.

3. Virgin media: Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, has been a vocal proponent of flexible working. Virgin Media in the UK offers a range of flexible working solutions to its employees, including job-sharing, compressed hours, and remote working, to ensure a better work-life balance.

4. Deloitte UK: Recognizing the changing demands of the modern workplace, Deloitte UK offers a "Time Out" initiative, allowing employees to take a month of unpaid leave without having to provide a reason. This initiative is on top of their other flexible working practices.

5. Barclays: Barclays has been promoting dynamic working for its employees to help them achieve a balance between their personal and professional lives. This includes offering opportunities for remote work, part-time roles, job sharing, and staggered hours.

6. Lloyds banking group: The bank has been offering flexible working options to its employees, recognizing that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't always cater to the diverse needs of its workforce. They offer opportunities such as part-time work, remote working, and job-sharing.

7. Centrica: The parent company of British Gas, Centrica has introduced flexible working practices that aim to support the well-being and productivity of its staff. This includes options like remote working and flexitime.

These examples highlight the diverse range of industries – from telecommunications to banking to consumer goods – that are recognizing and embracing the benefits of flexible working in the UK.

It's also worth noting that the Covid-19 pandemic further accelerated the adoption of flexible working practices by many other companies.

Flexible working: The new blueprint for the UK's workplace

As the modern workplace transforms, the UK's approach to flexible working emerges as a beacon for employee empowerment and corporate adaptability. The myriad of options now available, from flexitime to remote working, reflects our evolving understanding of productivity and well-being. 

Not only does this trend towards flexibility offer employees an improved work-life balance, but it also provides businesses with the tools to attract, retain, and nurture talent in an increasingly competitive market. 

The Covid-19 pandemic accentuated the importance and viability of such practices, and as we navigate the post-pandemic world, one thing becomes clear: flexible working is not just a fleeting trend, but a cornerstone of the future workplace in the UK. 

For companies and employees alike, it's an opportunity to redefine what work looks like and how it integrates into the broader tapestry of life. Embracing this change now means moving in tandem with the future, ensuring the UK remains at the forefront of global workplace innovation.

FAQs for UK employees flexible working 

How many businesses in the UK offer flexible work schedules?

Trend towards flexible working had been growing, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic which made remote and flexible working more commonplace. Many businesses had adopted some form of flexible working, whether it be flexitime, compressed hours, or remote work. 

A study by the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) in 2020 suggested that before the pandemic, 65% of employers in the UK offered some form of flexible working. Post-pandemic, this percentage is likely to have increased, but for the latest figures, you'd need to consult up-to-date sources or official reports.

Can my employer change my flexible working agreement in the UK?

Yes, in the UK, an employer can potentially change a flexible working agreement, but not without following due process. If an employer wants to change the terms of a flexible working agreement, they usually need to:

  • Provide a business-related reason for the change.
  • Consult with the employee and explain the reasons for wanting to make the change.
  • Consider any negative impacts on the employee and attempt to find a mutually agreeable solution.
  • Follow the terms outlined in the employment contract or the flexible working agreement itself, which may stipulate how and when changes can be made.
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