Technology has accelerated the ability for flexible working. Thanks to laptops, smart phones, telecommunications equipment and other developments, people can constantly be online whether they are working from a traditional office or remotely. Mary Bonsor, former property litigator and founder of legal start-up F-LEX, writes on whether flexible working is becoming an entitlement.
Not only has technology revolutionised the way we work, it has also changed the attitude towards flexible work, with employees feeling entitled to flexibility.
In the UK, 4.2 million people work from home, that is 13.7% of employment and this is continuing to increase with more demand. This “entitlement” seems to arise because every other aspect of our lives is becoming more and more flexible, at the click of a button, whether it is house swapping on Airbnb, renting a desk in a co working space, or swiping right on tinder; the ability to pick and choose from an array of choices is now the norm.
The combination of technology and flexibility within the workplace has an immense amount of benefit; it can reduce overheads, increase efficiency, create job satisfaction and improve well being.
The flexibility of the gig economy
Having recently set up F-LEX, an online platform to connect law firms and in house counsels to law students for an on demand service, I can really see the benefit of flexibility. It allows students to experience a range of different sectors before they decide on where they would like to qualify and comfortably fit work around their university timetables. It allows businesses to cut overheads by having an on-demand resource that they can dip into at peaks of work.
On the flipside, there are also dangers of too much flexibility; several of which have been highlighted in recent high-profile cases. Companies including Uber and Deliveroo have been under scrutiny due to the uncertainty over people’s employment rights and job security, resulting from an excessive reliance on flexible working practices.
It is interesting that both these companies are tech led, using an “app” for bookings. There also may be more resistance by Companies to invest in someone when the reality is that gone are the days of firm loyalty. An HR manager of a silver circle firm recently told me they spend 1.1 million on their trainees which is a huge sum if the trainee is going to move firms straight after they qualify.
Flexibility and technology are imperative parts of the future of resourcing for all companies, which will continue to be pushed to adapt to the flexi-culture of the modern world. Recruitment of the personnel is almost becoming more important to ensure you can find the candidates who will be loyal to the firm, efficient and willing to work hard around their own flexible timetable.
Mary also contributed to the following reports:
For further reading on the topic of flexible working, please see the following: