Only a quarter of UK job ads offer flexible work option, survey shows

Joseph B. Hash

The COVID-19 pandemic meant a change to remote working for a large proportion of the UK workforce and most employees want to continue to work flexibly in their next position

Most job advertisements in the UK do not mention the option of flexible working, although a majority of employees want to be able to combine working from home with going into a workplace or office.

A survey by flexible work consultancy Timewise showed that only 26% of job ads included a flexible component.

The COVID-19 pandemic meant a change to remote working for a large proportion of the UK workforce and most employees want to continue to work flexibly in their next position.

However, job advertisements suggest employers have not yet adapted to this change in attitude.

“Employers that don’t include their flexible working offering within their job ads are making a huge mistake,” professor Sir Cary Cooper, organisational psychologist at Alliance Manchester Business School, told the BBC.

“The hybrid model is what the majority of people want – and are currently practising.”

Cooper said one reason flexible working is not mentioned in job ads is because employers may “fear potential employees will think that they have the automatic right to work remotely 24/7”.

Janine Bosak, professor of organisational psychology at Dublin City University Business School, told the BBC that employers might prefer new starters to be physically present to learn the new role.

“Employers might also be reluctant to mention flexible working in their advertising materials as it might be perceived as a right to flexible working, whereas it might not always be possible to accommodate a desire for flexible working,” she said.

A separate survey from digital transformation expert Adaptavist revealed that 43% of workers in the UK want to come back to the workplace/office full-time, while another 43% favour a flexible/hybrid model and 14% want to be remote only.

The survey also found that many employees struggle with the tools and technologies they are using to navigate working remotely, and that 75% of those taking part in the survey saying they “sometimes” or “always” feel invisible to their colleagues on digital platforms despite their interactions.

“…while hybrid working is the way forward, there is still work to be done to maximise the opportunities that hybrid working can bring to both employees and businesses alike,” said Adaptavist chief executive Simon Haighton-Williams.

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