Working from home has increased, but other flexi options fall

New CIPD research finds that inevitably working from home increased last year. But other forms of flexible working actually decreased

The words flexible working written on a post it note next to a keyboard and a pen


The pandemic has produced a mixed picture for flexible working according to new analysis. Working from home has massively increased. But other forms of flexibility – such as part time, flexi-time and compressed hours – have actually become less common.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) analysed ONS Labour force statistics from the final quarter of 2020. The stats take in nearly 75,000 people. They found home working is the only flexible arrangement that’s increased since the pandemic kicked in, despite home school and childcare issues.

The analysis compares figures for April-June 2020 to those from October-December 2020. The use of part-time working has fallen from 28.3% to 27.6%. The use of flexi-time has fallen from 12.7% to 12.6%; and the use of annualised hours has fallen from 6.4% to 6.2%. In contrast, home working increased from 7.8% to 10.1% in this period.


The CIPD says many workers are missing out on the benefits of using arrangements such as flexi-time (altered start and finish times), part-time hours, annualised hours (a total number of hours for the year, worked over different patterns each week or month) and job shares. It adds that this also risks creating divisions or a ‘two-tier’ workforce of those who can work from home and those who need to attend the workplace and have little flexibility in how they work.

Another interest nugget from the research found nearly 10% of workers want to work less. One in 10 of those questioned said they would prefer to work shorter hours and they would accept the pay cut that comes with this.

The CIPD has launched a FlexFrom1st campaign to make flexible working a day on right. And they are urging employers to increase access to a range of flexible working options, to address inequalities in the workforce and give people a greater say over not just where they work but when.

Huge shift

Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, says: “There’s been a huge shift to home working since the coronavirus pandemic and this has proved to be positive for a lot of people, with many organisations now looking at how to provide more choice in where people work as we come out of the lockdowns. But our analysis shows a concerning downward trend emerging for all other forms of flexible working. If the use of other flexible working arrangements continues to fall this will drive many questions about fairness and equality in the workplace for those whose jobs require them to be in a place of work.

“Home working must not be the only flexible working arrangement available, and employers should take action to offer and encourage the uptake of a broad range of options that give opportunities for everyone to have more choice and flexibility in how they work. More flexible working in all its forms helps to attract and retain people with a broad diversity of needs and expectations about how they work, thereby fostering more diverse and inclusive workplaces. It can also be good for wellbeing and productivity.”

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