Marking International Women’s Day on 8 March, the Minister for Women and Equalities, Liz Truss, called for employers to normalise the option of flexible working for employees as part of the recovery plans from the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. This includes the option to work part-time/flexi time, to work from home, to work fewer hours or to do a job share.

With more people working flexibly due to the pandemic, Truss argues that now is the time to normalise it across the country. She claims that the move will boost employment in areas away from major cities and help improve opportunities for women who are twice as likely as men to work flexibly.

Almost 40 per cent of employees worked from home in 2020, and the appetite for flexibility hit new heights during the pandemic. Research has shown that nine out of 10 jobseekers want increased flexibility, whether in the form of remote working (60 per cent), flexitime (54 per cent) or reduced hours (26 per cent).

Even during the pandemic, however, just over a fifth (22 per cent) of “quality” permanent jobs (excluding temporary jobs, self-employed work, freelance work and commission only work) were advertised with flexible working options.

New research – just published by the government-backed Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) and jobs website Indeed – showed that offering flexible working explicitly in job ads would increase applications by up to 30 per cent.

The research, which analysed nearly 20 million applications and was the largest of its kind ever conducted in the UK, showed that greater transparency in job adverts would create at least 174,000 flexible jobs to the UK economy per year.

The research from BIT and Indeed builds on another government-backed report that was published last December in which insurance company, Zurich, worked with BIT to advertise all roles as flexible as part of a trial. This led to a 20 per cent jump in the number of women applying for senior roles within the company and double the number of total applications. 

You can read the BIT research in more detail here.