Flexible working key to commuter work-life balance


Employees in London are less likely to work flexibly than staff in the rest of the UK, yet almost two-thirds of flexible workers in the capital are more satisfied with their jobs and have a better work-life balance, research has found. 

A CIPD survey revealed that, despite London-based staff having much longer commuting times than the national average, just over half (52%) have the ability to work flexibly.

Almost one-fifth (19%) of commuters to London regarded their journey to and from work as one of their top three sources of stress.

In the UK as a whole, the most common causes of employee anxiety were: money worries (22%); the nature of their job, for example, pressure or working hours (22%); and relationship issues (20%).

The report noted, however, that flexible workers were much less likely to report being under pressure than those who do not work flexibly.

Two-fifths (42%) of those who do not have the chance to work flexibly stated that they were under excessive pressure every day or once or twice a week, compared with 29% who do work flexibly.

Almost two-thirds (65%) of respondents who use a flexible working option at their workplace said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their work-life balance, compared with 47% of those who do not have this benefit.

David D’Souza, head of CIPD London, said: “The nature of work is changing. We need real action on flexible working from Government, the new Mayor of London and from businesses. As new generations enter the labour market with different expectations about how they want to work and older generations stay in work longer, the rigid working habits too many employers still abide by will have to change.

“Of course some people are restricted in their ability to work flexibly because of the nature of their jobs but far too often it’s the attitudes of managers and business leaders that are the major obstacles to increasing the use of different types of flexible working.”

Part-time working was the most commonly used form of flexible working among respondents, with just under three in ten employees stating that they work in this way, followed by flexi-time working (19%) or working from home on a regular basis (14%).

Flexible working benefits

The main benefits of flexible working cited by employees were that it helps them reduce the amount of stress or pressure they feel (29%), it enables a better work-life balance (54%) and it has been a factor in them staying with their current employer (28%).

Over one-fifth of respondents said that being able to work flexibly has allowed them to reduce the amount of time they spend commuting (23%), to manage caring responsibilities for children (22%) and to invest more time in friends and family (22%).

The main obstacles to employers providing or increasing the use of flexible working arrangements identified by respondents were the nature of work at their organisation (27%), negative attitudes among senior managers (15%) and negative attitudes among line managers and supervisors.


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