Flexible Working Comes of Age



Flexible working has always existed, but it took the COVID pandemic to bring the concept to the attention of a lot of businesses, including those within the construction industry. Much of this is down to an old school view that flexible working means employees not working, which reality could not be more wrong.

During the lockdowns, many businesses have continued trading pretty much as normal, and didn’t collapse as a result of its home-working staff whiling away the hours watching day-time TV! In fact, many traded as normal, but much more productively, with employees reporting better levels of wellbeing, free of long commutes and able to spend more time with family.

As we slowly emerge from restrictions, and many people are still working flexibly, the benefits are even more apparent. The age-old barrier to greater inclusivity in the workplace, and often cited by those in construction as an issue – juggling work, parenting, and home life, has lessened as no more commute means more time at home. The environment has benefitted and will continue to benefit too, with less miles travelled, meaning less carbon emissions. Local economies are also seeing a small bonus with those home workers spending locally, instead of around centralised locations surrounding so-called business hubs. Meetings, either by Zoom or other tech, are also much more productive and focussed, and outputs have increased for many.

In fact, a growing number of organisations have stated that the need for 5-days per week office-based working will not resume, with a hybrid working model being looked at as the norm for the future. Currently, companies, such as Arcadis, Arup and BAM Construct UK have made flexible working permanent now for UK staff, whilst organisations such as the Federation of Piling Specialists is looking at ways a flexible working model can be adopted much more widely by its members. All good news for the construction sector and those it employs.

The last 18-months or so have not been good for any of us, but hopefully flexible working will be one of the positives to emerge out of the pandemic. Going forward there is a much more enlightened view of working that not only benefits the individual but also the companies they work for and more widely – society – let’s hope the enlightenment continues to spread.