Two in five Scottish workers need flexible working, or can’t work at all
Two in every five Scottish workers say they need flexible working, or they can’t work at all, according to a new white paper published in early March by Flexibility Works.
While flexible working has increased since the pandemic with 61% of Scottish workers saying they have some form of flexibility over when, where or how much they work, the white paper aims to remind employers and policymakers just how critical flex is for the wider Scottish economy.
Key findings include:
- Two in five (40%) Scottish workers say they need flexible working, or can’t work at all
- A third (31%) of Scottish workers would like to change jobs but aren’t because they’re worried they won’t get flex elsewhere
- Almost half (45%) will only apply for a new role if it specifically mentions flexible working
- One in five (19%) are considering giving up work because of a lack of flexibility
- Employers need to create flexibility around when and how much people work, as well as where people work, and showcase flex in recruitment
Nikki Slowey, co-founder and director of social business Flexibility Works, said: “We still hear people talk about flexible working as a ‘nice to have’ but these figures are a pertinent reminder of how essential flexibility is for a large portion of our workforce. Without flex, many people just can’t work, which hits family finances hard and pushes some people into poverty.
“Meanwhile we know many employers are struggling with skills shortages and are concerned about recruitment, retention and progression pipelines. It’s in all our interests to help people get work, stay in work and progress at work so we create a strong Scottish economy.
“Yet while flexible working has increased since the pandemic, much of the focus has been on home and hybrid working when the bigger picture shows we need all kinds of flexibility for all kinds of workers and this needs to be visible to job seekers. Let’s hope Scottish employers step up.”
The white paper, called Beyond hybrid: Why all kinds of flexible working matter in 2023, analysed data from 662 adult Scottish workers. It shows 40% of Scottish workers say they need flexible working, or can’t work at all, and underscores the importance of flexibility to enable people to work. This figure includes frontline workers who can’t work from home and need other forms of flexible working, such as flexibility on hours.
The white paper also covers how a lack of visible flexible working opportunities is holding people back from changing jobs and progressing in their careers. Nearly a third (31%) of Scottish workers said they’d like to change jobs but were staying put because of concerns they wouldn’t get the flex they need elsewhere. While almost half (45%) said they’d only apply for a new role if it mentioned flexible working.
Finally, the white paper shows one in five (19%) Scottish workers surveyed are considering giving up work because of a lack of flexibility. This includes people who have some flexibility, but not enough.
Flexibility Works hopes the findings will remind Scottish employers and policy makers of how essential flexible working is to help people enter work, stay in work and progress at work.
Types of flex people need
The new figures show that while flexibility around where people work, such as home and hybrid working are popular, so is flexibility around when people work, such as flexitime, and how much people work, such as part time hours.
A total of 42% of Scottish office workers said they’d like some working from home and 38% said they’d like hybrid working. But more than a third (35%) said they’d like flexibility over their start and finish times (while still working their usual number of contracted hours) and one in five (19%) would like part-time hours.
Among Scottish frontline and customer-facing workers, 35% said they’d like some working from home and 27% said they’d like hybrid working. But nearly one in three (29%) said they’d like flexibility to adjust their start and finish times, and more than one in five (21%) would like part time hours. Nearly one in five (18%) would just like to be able to swap shifts more easily.
The main reasons workers gave for wanting flexibility were: caring responsibilities including for children (29%), wellbeing (18%), for greater control over work and productivity (14%), and mental health (11%).
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