Flexible Working

by The Times 100 on Thursday 24th May, 2007

Changing Working Patterns

For many years a”nine-to-five” working day was the norm.However, there is growing evidence that people are working widely-differing working hours in the modern workplace.A recent BBC news item reports on the findings of a survey undertaken by the Centre for Economics and Business Research.The survey shows that one third of workers do their jobs outside the”normal” nine-to-five hours (BBC, 4th May 2007).

In a new report entitled,”Hours to Suit”, by the charity Working Families, it is suggested that:

“senior positions in some of the most competitive and demanding private-sector jobs, including lawyers, accountants and retail managers, can be undertaken while job sharing or even working part-time,”(Sunday Herald, 20th May 2007).

But why is there a change to different working hours and patterns?Is it being driven by the workers or the firms?Many workers are only willing to work in hours that suit their lifestyle.The Working Families report suggests that the main reason for workers requesting flexible working hours is still childcare-related.However it also suggests that the demand for this type of working may increase further, as by 2020 it is expected that nearly 10 million people will have caring responsibilities for an elderly relative. Being able to juggle a job around the needs of a family is an important consideration for many in choosing which job to apply for.

However, we must remember that the trend can also be partially explained by the demand for labour.The demand for labour is a derived demand and is therefore dependent upon the demand for the goods and services that workers produce.Chris Pilling, the chief executive of banking firm First Direct suggests that:

“people like being able to pay their bills after they've finished watching EastEnders and to do the weekly shop after the kids are tucked up in bed,” (BBC, 4th May 2007).

If the demand for 24-hour service availability continues, then workers will be needed to supply these growing demands.

The Times 100 case study looks at how the Audit Commission has developed flexible working patterns within its organisation.This has included the use of homeworking, which allows flexibility both in the hours worked and the location. 

Sources
Is the nine-to-five redundant? – BBC News, 4th May 2007

Flexible working – is possible at the highest levels of business – Sunday Herald, 20th May 2007

http://www.thetimes100.co.uk/case-study–flexible-working-patterns-at-audit-commission–79-249-1.php

Potential Study Questions:
What is meant by the term”derived demand”?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of an Organisation like the Audit Commission offering home working?

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