Last week, the measure for flexible working came into effect. Realistically, this doesn’t mean you’ll be firing out emails while bungee jumping off the wing of a plane – unless you’re Richard Branson. And if you are Richard Branson, you're probably doing that already. And in space. The flexible working measures are less drastic than that; they simply mean employees can now request to work from home, part-time or in shifts from their employers without obliging employers to grant this. Nevertheless this is a move which could shake up working habits.
More people could start to work from home, part-time or in shifts. Employees retain the right to refuse the request, as long as they consider it in a “reasonable manner”. If it is granted, however, it’s a permanent change with no right for return. Read The Guardian's summary.
Despite the fact employers will not be legally compelled to grant flexible working, it does represent a sea change in attitudes. Measures like these are undoubtedly important for parents and carers whose lifestyles demand flexibility. They are also important for the rest of us. It’s recognition that work has to fit around different home circumstances. It is also a sign that life at work and at home will become further intertwined.
As flexible working becomes more ingrained in our conception of work, technology will become ever more important. Our office will become the cloud, while the only thing we’ll be tied to is our remote desktop. Broadband and video conferencing will become ever more necessary for communication. Office space will still remain vital - but no longer as a place simply to store documents or to house rows and rows of workers. It’ll be a place to enhance the wellbeing of employees and foster creativity, collaboration and innovation.
Many have said that flexible working may lead to more stress as employees confuse their work and home life leaving them completely unable to switch off. Before you know it you’ll be surreptitiously filling out an Excel spreadsheet while reading out Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Employees will be so busy multi-tasking, making sure they stay on top of personal and professional matters, that they’ll never be able to devote themselves entirely to either. This is a real danger. Find out about the tell-tale signs that working from home isn't working. That’s why spaces dedicated to working are important but perhaps not those that make you feel stifled, stagnant or like yet another drone.
We don’t like to blow our own trumpet (yes, of course we do) but this is exactly why co-working spaces will become ever more important. In the past, we've talked about coworking with regards to the London property market and real estate. And it's not just for creative freelancers and one-man-business-bands but for those who up till now had relatively conventional working habits. Someone who until recently had a nine-to-five office job may find themselves working from a co-working space once a week so they can avoid the traffic, get out of the office, meet other businesses and work in a stimulating and energising environment. Stagnation doesn’t breed innovation; working with a like-minded and varied workforce does.
Are you considering asking for flexible working hours? Tweet us and tell us your story @clubworkspace