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We wanted to find out how far UK businesses have travelled on the journey to a wholly flexible working environment.

What we found

The new normal

We found that flexible working has made the move into the mainstream - almost all UK organisations (94%) offer some form of flexible working. In fact, flexible working is now standard practice in half of the organisations we asked, with four in five managers saying they had taken advantage of flexible working practices in the past four years.

Gender balance

The gender balance in flexible working is beginning to even out. As many men as women are now working flexible hours or working from home, showing a real shift towards flexible working for all.

We still see more women working part-time or in job share roles, but here men are quickly catching up with their female colleagues – 38% of managers said male members of their team worked part time, and 16% had men job sharing.

Positive attitude

The majority of managers think that flexible working is beneficial to their business, reporting improvements in productivity, commitment and retention of staff. CEOs are typically the most positive, and are likely to see the business benefits and to have worked flexibly themselves.

At all levels, people who have worked flexibly are most likely to have a positive view and to see the benefits.

The inflexible few

Those with no experience of working flexibly are more negative about its effects - just over a quarter of this group think it wouldn't benefit their business.

A third of respondents have heard derogatory remarks about flexible workers and one in five think working flexibly would be 'career limiting' in their organisation.

Develop core skills

Managers believe they need to have strong communication, planning and performance management skills to manage flexible workers effectively. They also identified the skills that make a good flexible worker: good time management is seen as the most important attribute.