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Why an employer won't offer flexible working

Posted over 1 year ago by Julia Williams

With reports that 87% of employees and job seekers foresee flexible working being a large part of the renumeration package for the foreseeable future, it can be easy to assume that businesses are likely to follow this trend, enabling flexible working benefits for their teams.

Whilst we have seen a steady increase in the volume of flexible working jobs being offered over the past year, not all businesses have been able to commit to following the trend.

Why would an employer not offer flexible working?

There can be many reasons why an employer may not be willing to offer flexible working. Sometimes it can be as simple as employees not being able to do their job from home, a dip in productivity or the need to work as part of a collective; but for roles mostly undertaken in an office environment surely this would be possible?

One of the largest barriers to offering flexible working for some employers has not been a reduction in productivity but a loss of culture.

Proven to be beneficial for performance and staff retention, culture is the driving force behind many brands recruitment strategies. It is what helps to unify teams, ensure collaborative efforts, drive creativity & innovation and helps craft an enjoyable workplace.

This loss of culture, especially within smaller businesses and agencies, has put a strain on how some teams are able to engage with each other, with a lack of face to face contact sometimes creating tension and frustrations in daily working habits.

Can I persuade an employer to offer flexible working?

Persuade is a strong word and we would say no. 

In some instances employers may be willing to become more agile if you are clear and transparent with them about what you want and why.

For instance, an employer may be more willing to offer some flexible working to an individual who has childcare commitments or a long commute versus a person who wants to work flexibly just because it is a ‘nice to have’ perk. It’s important that an employer understands the reason for a request and the benefits of working that way for both parties, opening up an honest discussion is a good place to start.

I’m looking for flexible work, what can I do?

If you’re looking for flexible work we encourage you to always be clear with a potential employer about what you want and why. You should evidence this where possible in your CV/cover letter and bring it up as a topic for discussion during your interview.

Ensuring you are transparent at all times avoids any issues further down the line and allows an open conversation, giving you he best chance of getting exactly what you are looking for when job searching.

If this is not proving to be successful for you, an alternative option may be to consider the freelance route. Overall we tend to see a lot more flexibility being offered with freelance contracts, but there are other factors to consider including having less stability than you would in a permanent role.

My employer isn’t offering flexible working. What can I do?

If like many, you have had a taste of flexible working over the last 12 months, but are soon expected to return to the office on a full-time basis, it is worth opening up a conversation with your employer about the reasons why you are being asked to return and whether a hybrid home/office model could work.

Sometimes the factors behind the decision may be outside of your control, but if you feel this is not the case then it is worth highlighting to your employer the reasons why you would benefit from flexible working and how this can be managed internally.

If it is the case that you need flexibility but it cannot be offered to you, then it may be time to consider looking for a new role which offers you the benefits you are seeking.

Though flexible working is a trending topic amongst job seekers, it is wise to remember that 12 months ago the opportunity to work flexibly was rarer than today, and whilst it may feel unjust that not all employers are offering the benefit, many have fair reasons for not doing so just yet.

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