Lisa Gallagher

Lisa Gallagher, director and co-founder at Flexibility Works, sets out the latest findings on how flexible working has helped both employers and employees to weather the pandemic and why we should now embrace it for life.

From pandemic response to 'flex for life'

Flexible working is undoubtedly front and centre of workplace discussion and future design right now. But if you're wondering what's fact and what's just talk, we can help.

We've spent months talking to businesses and employees about the impact of the pandemic on how we work, and we're now sharing our insights and expert advice in a handy report as part of our new campaign Flex For Life.

Our research involved speaking with more than 1,000 Scottish employees who weren't furloughed, and more than 200 Scottish business leaders, as well as employee focus group findings and deep-dive interviews with 14 very different employers, including wealth management firm Brewin Dolphin and Glasgow-based construction firm City Building.

Lisa Gallagher

Our report provides Scotland's first comprehensive data on working patterns during Covid as well as expected supply and demand for flex, and practical advice on how to create more flex in workplaces now.

The Covid 'experiment' has proved to many businesses and employees that flexible working can benefit them, and businesses need to act now to embed what was simply a response to the pandemic into a sustainable and profitable way of working.

Here's a very brief summary of our findings.

Employee experiences:

  • 61% of Scottish employees worked from home at least some of the time during the pandemic
  • Almost half (46%) worked exclusively from home
  • 29% moved their hours around home responsibilities

Now, more than half (55%) of Scots say they're considering asking for more flexibility when restrictions lift, while more than a quarter (27%) say they'll definitely do this. These groups include workers who already have some flex and want more, and those who didn't have any flex before Covid.

Most people only want relatively small changes, showing businesses are not facing a daunting revolution in working patterns:

  • Nearly half (45%) want to work from home more regularly than before
  • 32% want more flexitime - working the same total hours but flexing their start/finish times.
  • Just 13% want to work part-time
  • Only 5% want a job-share

More than half (51%) of homeworkers missed social interaction with colleagues, suggesting demand for full-time home working will be limited too.

Employer data

Three quarters (76%) of Scottish business leaders credit offering more flexibility with helping the business survive the pandemic.

As a result of their Covid experience:

  • 61% of Scottish employers say they expect to offer more home working even when restrictions lift
  • 44% expect to offer more flexitime
  • 41% expect to offer more informal flex, such as ad-hoc time off for appointments

Further key business findings:

  • Almost two thirds (61%) of Scottish employers said offering more flex allowed them to deliver for customers despite the pandemic disruption, while 49% said it supported employee wellbeing and 44% said it reduced costs.
  • Regardless of Covid, more than two thirds (67%) of Scottish business leaders said flex improved productivity, while 66% said it reduced sickness absence and 70% of said it improved employee loyalty.

Flex pre-Covid

  • Before Covid, nearly half (46%) of Scots worked flexibly. A further 27% didn't work flex but wanted to.
  • Just 12% UK workers said they worked from home sometimes pre-Covid.

The pandemic forced many of us to work differently and it's often been incredibly tough. Fortunately, we've discovered some unexpected benefits too. Flexing where - and when - we work has helped show employees and employers that we can work in different ways, and it has helped businesses continue to deliver for customers despite the pandemic disruption.

We've seen that our old '9-5' office week is no longer fit for purpose. So we're asking employers to work together with employees to co-create new ways of working. Managers don't need all the answers, and teams often come up with the best solutions, if you ask them. Flexibility helped us weather the pandemic but now we should embrace it for life.

The report and more information about business support from Flexibility Works is available at

You can join the #FlexForLife conversation at @flex_works or on LinkedIn

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