Astrid Allen, a Senior Research Fellow from the Institute for Employment Studies (IES), will present findings from recent research into flexible working for frontline and site-based workers.

She will draw from the recently completed IES ‘Flexible working for all’ joint project with Timewise, involving an evaluation of different flexible working initiatives introduced at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation NHS Trust, Sir Robert McAlpine and Wickes.

The ‘Flexible working for all’ project aimed to reduce organisational disparities and improve the health and wellbeing of employees within the participating organisations.

Its success is a result of driven and expert people collaborating to solve a huge challenge for organisations that has wider implications for social justice and health equity.

It has resulted in practical guidance to support other organisations looking to address inequality and improve the health and wellbeing of their employees.

Astrid’s presentation will cover the key findings: 

  • Benefits for frontline and site-based workers. Increasing flexibility in frontline and site-based roles improved health and wellbeing, work-life balance, and raised levels of job satisfaction.
  • Benefits for organisations. Offering opportunities for increased flexibility resulted in organisational level benefits. We found evidence of reduced sickness absence, increased organisational loyalty and improved performance.
  • Cultural change. All participating organisations experienced a change process that prompted a cultural shift in the way work is done. Good practice change management processes emerged as highly relevant to implementing these flexible working policies successfully (such as piloting, monitoring change and internal advocacy).
  • Senior leadership commitment. The engagement and support of senior leaders in the pilots was fundamental. This gave managers and teams the confidence and motivation to experiment with new ways of working.
  • Team ownership. Devolving responsibility to individual teams was central to the approach taken by our participating organisations. This ensured that solutions were co-designed with those employees who would be affected by the changes, predicating success.
  • Autonomy. Individual autonomy was central to accruing benefit from the flexibilities on offer. Where employees were empowered to choose approaches that worked for them and their team, they were better able to balance their work commitments with their personal priorities.
  • Latent demand. Our research found a strong demand for flexible options among employees. Managers need to be encouraged to take a proactive approach to ensuring that employees in all roles are afforded flexibility.

 She will also introduce the key recommendations:

  • Establish clear organisational principles and expectations on flexible working options and their availability in all roles.[1] These will be vital to set the tone and standard and ensure leaders across the organisation understand the part they need to play in achieving equality in access to flexible working.
  • Share messaging internally on the value of flexible working for all individuals and for the organisation across channels and networks. Showcase stories and promote role modelling to disrupt the prevailing idea that flexible working is synonymous with home-based or hybrid working. Demonstrate that flexibility is an option in site-based roles.
  • Employee voice and engagement are key to designing and organising work effectively at a local level. Facilitate regular consultations with employees to cultivate a healthy workplace where people are empowered through input and control over their working pattern and to make decisions on ways of working as a team.
  • Recognise the value of pilots, and the rigorous evaluation of them, to explore new ways of working and assess impact on individuals, teams and services. These can contribute to workforce development programmes by providing insights to guide decision-making.  

Booking for this event has now closed.