Is flexible working essential to success?

15 Dec 2022

New research out this week reveals 82% of employers believe offering greater flexibility is key to attracting and retaining talent. The pros and cons of the four-day week have long been a hot topic in the workplace, and according to the latest DocuSign survey of 450 business decision-makers from all sectors, 75% of those polled are of the opinion that flexibility provides a competitive advantage, whilst 82% said it is essential. 


These findings also show that 56% of business leaders believe their principal priorities are recruitment and talent. Therefore, businesses should look at ways to boost their flexibility, according to Epic HR director Gary Cookson. “Flexible working, among other things, is often cited as one of the benefits people are looking for from an employer, so they must consider anything and everything they can to stand out and be competitive within the labour market,” he said.


The UK government has recently unveiled new legislation providing employees with the right to request flexible working from the outset, as opposed to having to wait 26 weeks. In addition, organisations should look at forming flexibility-friendly workplaces and “start to normalise the conversation [around flexibility],” said Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development senior policy adviser Claire McCartney. “Employers should also look to train their line managers in how to support flexible teams through building cultures of trust and measuring performance by outcomes,” she added. 

Importance of tech 

Despite the fact 54% of respondents to this survey have made an investment in physical infrastructure to bolster flexible working over the past two years, “technology can help greatly”, said Cookson, in ensuring flexible working is productive. “It provides the opportunity to contribute asynchronously, and in many cases without being physically seen, which can also help to minimise the risk of bias in how such contributions, and by extension the employees, are perceived,” he added. Furthermore, businesses should look at introducing flexible working by default. This may involve a shift away from traditional working hours contracts and utilising data to boost flexible outcomes.