Covid sees rise in working from home but decrease in flexible working

Research shows flexible working dads have more time to spend with their children.

Man holding baby over his shoulder while cradling phone between head and shoulder on the other side and mixing a bowl with other hand.


Covid has resulted in an increase in the number of dads who work from home (WFH), but all other flexible working options have witnessed a decrease. This is bad news for working dads as eight in ten believe true flexible working gives them more time to look after their children.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) analysis of the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) Labour Force Survey (LFS) found remote working is the only form of flexible working to have increased during the pandemic. The LFS studies are based on the results of 75,000 professionals working patterns.

PowWowNow, a conference call provider for smaller to medium sized enterprises (SMEs), found 80% of dads believe when broader flexible working is offered, it gives them far more time to look after their children. The conference call provider also revealed almost a fifth (19%) of working dads have to fake an illness to manage childcare duties. Research from Quinyx, a workforce management company, discovered dads see flexibility as twice as important compared to training and development when searching for a new role.

Broader flexible working

Flexible working entails various different ways of employment, all of which have decreased except for remote working since the beginning of the pandemic. The LFS found that from April to June 2020 compared to October to December 2020, part time-working has decreased from 28.38% to 27.64%, flexi-time was down from 12.77% to 12.60% and term-time working went from 4.68% to 4.22%. However, at the same time, remote working increased from 7.86% to 10.17%.

The CIPD is currently running a campaign, #FlexFrom1st, which gives the chance for all employees to request flexible working from the very first day of a new job.  This is an opinion echoed by Howard Lewis, Surface Business Group Lead at Microsoft UK who feels that “flexible working should not be a benefit but a requirement”, as it brings with it a good work-life balance. Lewis even went as far to say that flexible working “is one of the main parts of wellbeing”.

More than just remote working

Andrew Johnson, when Managing Director of PowWowNow in 2020, said, “As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the majority of businesses have now put the technologies and processes in place to facilitate remote working, and workforces are accustomed to these practices. There is no longer any excuse for companies not to provide flexible working options going forward to empower fathers to better balance work and family commitments. These need to include flexible hours as well as remote working options.

“Decision-makers must move to ensure policy supports all working parents— we need parental leave that works for both men and women if we are to tackle gender disparities and create fair and happy societies.”

Read more:

Supporting employees’ mental health when they work from home

10 lessons to take into the new workplace culture

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