Changes to Flexible Working Arrangements in 2020
17 September 2020

Changes to Flexible Working Arrangements in 2020

Changes to Flexible Working Arrangements in 2020

You may have heard the words “flexible working” being bandied about more and more lately and it is a really hot topic for many ‘ post-Covid’.

The concept of flexible working is not new and can be very broad. In the past, it was more commonly known as flextime or flexitime allowing employees to choose their own start and finish times giving them the ability to work around their personal commitments.  It did not however often allow them the flexibility to choose where they worked from.

The self-employed are more used to the concept of flexible working, being able to pick and choose their working hours and where they work from, thanks to modern technology, which provides the ability to work from pretty much anywhere in the world.

More than 9 in 10 working parents and carers surveyed want their workplace to retain flexible working post-COVID-19.

So, post-Covid, after many were actually forced to work from home during lockdown, are we now seeing the dawn of a new working era, where employers give their staff more flexible working arrangements; allowing employees to decide on how and where they work.

It has certainly been an eye-opener for many companies and the benefits have been found to be plentiful, not just for the employees, but also for the employers, after all, who wouldn’t want a better work-life balance!

Flexible working for the employed

The BBC recently carried out research on the top 50 of the UK’s biggest employers and 50% of those businesses said they did not have any plans in place to return workers to the office. In another recent survey of 286,000 people, more than 70% of those surveyed would choose to work from home for 3 days or more.

Flexible working is therefore set to be the next big step in employment history, breaking the traditional 9 am to 5 pm, five-day working week structure.

Person working from home.

Thanks to the digital age of smartphones and laptops there is even more pressure to be ‘available’ and the Covid pandemic has resulted in many employees wanting to rebalance how they live and work with one in two employees valuing flexible working far higher than holidays, benefits, job security, commute time and even salary.

Employers have seen massive benefits too and now understand that this type of work is not as difficult to implement as they may once have believed and is exceptionally beneficial to their businesses. Flexible working will attract the top talent and retain them, it will reduce stress and burnout, increase productivity, provide better job satisfaction and will promote that all-important healthy work-life balance.

It is important to remember that not all job roles suit flexible working arrangements but for those that do, this can promote greater health and wellbeing caused by the pressure of an increasingly demanding work culture.

It is possibly a little known fact that you can legally request flexible working arrangements from your employer and you can do this either by making a statutory request (made under the law on flexible working) or a non-statutory request.

In order to make a statutory request you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must be an employee
  • You must have worked for your employer for a minimum of 26 weeks in a row

You cannot make a request if:

  • you’re an agency worker – unless you are returning from parental leave
  • you’ve asked for flexible working within the previous 12 months, whether your request was agreed to or not
  • you’re an employee shareholder unless you are returning from parental leave

If you don’t meet the criteria for a statuary request, you can still make a non-statutory request. Unlike a statutory request there is no set procedure, so it is advisable to write to your employer making it clear what you are asking for.


Flexible working for the self-employed

Historically, many companies have been sceptical about allowing staff to work from home fearing productivity would drop and they would lose control, however, post-Covid, many have realised that working from home actually makes their staff happier and more productive, and the financial benefits are also very attractive.

The Work vs Life Balance

Due to that previous lack of flexibility, many professionals chose to become self-employed so that they could take control of their own work-life balance. As a result of self-employment and freelancing have continued to rise in popularity as there are many benefits to being self-employed, such as:

  • Being in charge of the decision making
  • Being able to set your own hours
  • Being able to decide where you want to work from
  • Reaping the rewards of your own efforts
  • Having the ability to earn more by setting your own price and level of work
  • Being able to choose the work you do
  • Being able to take advantage of certain tax deductions

However, as more companies embrace this new flexible way of working, we may well see the popularity of being self-employed drop because if companies can provide a better work-life balance, there will not be such a strong need for going it alone.

Wooden interior examples from SMART rooms

Improve your work-life balance

The pressure of an increasingly demanding work culture is perhaps the biggest and most pressing challenge to mental health.

An article by the BBC suggests that 91% of UK office workers that having been forced to work from home through Covid, would now like to work from home at least part of the time, as they have found that they can achieve a better work-life balance, and the benefits are pretty compelling:

  • More money from less commuting and less binge spending
  • More time to spend with family and friends
  • Ability to take control of workload and plan hours around other commitments
  • Less stressful

Therefore, the desire for flexible working is becoming a very important game-changer for many employers and employees alike and can help improve people’s mental health through an unhealthy work-life balance.

A recent mental health foundation survey found:

  • more than 40% of employees are neglecting other aspects of their life because of work, which may increase their vulnerability to mental health problems
  • one third of respondents felt unhappy or very unhappy about the time they devote to work
  • As a person’s weekly hours increased, so did their feelings of unhappiness

By taking control of the hours you work and where you work, and by cutting out the stress of long commutes, delays, traffic jams, cancelled trains or even just too many distractions around you, we will soon have a stress free, happy and engaged workforce, with a much healthier work-life balance.


Take yourself away from the work

One of the most important facts when deciding to work from home is to ensure that you create a dedicated space, away from distraction and the everyday hustle and bustle. As part of your healthy work-life balance, it is important to keep your work completely separate from your home life.

SMART Garden Office Exterior

Propping yourself up in the spare bedroom or commandeering the dining room table will not provide a very conducive space to work from. So, if you don’t have the luxury of a dedicated study or a home office but you have a garden then the solution is actually very easy and very affordable – install a SMART garden office.

A garden office doesn’t have to be large or costly and will provide you with the perfect solution for a fraction of the cost and is extremely easy to buy and have installed.

The added benefit of this is that this is not dead money like rent because, after five years, you will own this building. With a 10-year structural warranty and a minimum life expectancy of 25 years, that is a great investment for the future.

SMART Garden Office Interior

These amazing affordable garden offices can be manufactured to your specification and installed at your property in a matter of days.



Order Your Brochure Now

SMART has been creating thousands of small garden rooms over the past 19 years. With 7 beautiful and diverse ranges available in up to 64 sizes, there is a SMART to suit every taste, garden size and budget. Whatever you plan to use it for, SMART garden rooms offer you the ability to create a space that is bespoke to you and your needs, configured exactly as you would like through the whole host of optional extras and upgrades that are available.

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Start planning your SMART garden room today and order a copy of our brochure, where you’ll discover what makes our garden room the SMART choice.