Flexible approach is gaining acceptanceOn 22 Jun 2004 in Personnel Today What working arrangements are organisations employing to stay ahead of thegame?In recent years there has been much talk about the use of flexible workingpractices, both by employers who want to be able to flex labour in line withdemand and employees who want to work in more flexible ways to achieve a betterwork-life balance. But how widespread is the use of flexible working practices in reality? The findings from the 2003 Cranet Survey reveal a number of trends. Since1995, there has been some growth in the use of flexible working, in particularthe use of homeworking and teleworking. Some types of flexible working are much more common than others. For examplenearly all respondents with more than 200 employees used part-time working,whereas the use of annual hours and compressed working were much less common.In many cases, although various forms of flexible work practices were used,they only involved a small proportion of the workforce. The use of part-time staff has been consistently high. Since 1995, the vastmajority of companies (more than 95 per cent) have used part-time staff. Theuse of temporary staff has also been high, but there is evidence of somedecline – from 96 per cent in 1995 to 88 per cent in 2003 – which may be inresponse to the shifting legal status of temporary staff. However, despitebeing widely used by organisations, our findings show that these practices donot cover a significant slice of the workforce. For example, there was a smallincrease in the proportion of staff working part-time over the eight-yearperiod, in 75 per cent of cases part time staff amounted to less than 20 percent of the workforce. In 2003, three-quarters of employers reported usingfixed-term contracts, but this typically only covered a small proportion of theworkforce – almost 70 per cent reported using temporary contracts with lessthan 10 per cent of staff. Perhaps not surprisingly, two areas which have seen a significant increasewere the use of home-based and teleworkers (see figure 1). While these forms ofworking are still not widespread (a little over one-third and one-fifthrespectively), there has been a significant increase in their use over theeight-year period – the use of teleworking has almost doubled. This trend canbe explained by developments in communications technology – which make thepracticalities of remote working easier – and by the increase in work-lifebalance initiatives. Sixty-one per cent of employers operated job-sharingschemes and 50 per cent offered some form of flexi-time, usually covering agreater proportion of the workforce. The use of shift-working was commonly used by respondents and unlikepart-time and temporary work, tended to involve a greater proportion of theworkforce – 36 per cent of companies reported that more than a fifth of theirworkforce did shifts. However, the three surveys showed some decrease in theuse of shift work (see figure 2), which is perhaps surprising considering theincreasingly long operating hours in many service businesses. This may indicatea more innovative use of different types of contracts to cover longer hours.The use of overtime continues to be high – 94 per cent of organisations makinguse of it – but this has decreased from 97 per cent in 1995 and 1999.Organisations may be employing more cost-effective solutions in terms of otherflexible working arrangements. Overall, the findings suggest that with a few exceptions, there has beenconsiderable stability in the use of flexible work practices and that, evenwhere various forms are widespread, they tend only to relate to a smallproportion of the total workforce. Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.