In the contemporary time of Covid-19, working from home has given a new direction to the concept of flexible working (Dey et al., 2020). Flexible working is the non-traditional method of work arrangements where employees’ personal needs are considered.
The concept of flexible working was adopted in organisations to allow the employees to work from home (Loretto & Vickerstaff, 2015). The government of the UK also encourages the concept of flexible working with its rules and regulations.
Although, the government ensures the employer that an employee has to work 26 hours a week if a flexible work approach is considered (GOV UK, 2020). The primary purpose of flexible working is to meet the need of employees, which has a greater relationship with the concept of work-life balance.
Work-life balance is defined as the equilibrium between work and personal life of a person (Sirgy & Lee, 2018). If a person works with flexible working, then the essential needs of personal life become easy to manage. Still, it has a huge impact on employees’ overall leisure and other activities.
With the non-traditional approach and the pandemic, employers allow employees to work from home or relax during work hours. Other changes in the domain of flexible working are also taking place in workplaces. Considering this factor, this essay aims to discuss the changing nature of flexible working and its impact on an employee’s work-life balance.
Flexibility in work or flexible working is an umbrella term used to break traditional work rules of 9 to 5 and five days a week work culture. The concept of flexible working is developing rapidly (Forbes, 2020). With flexible working, organizations are allowing individuals to work with greater freedom.
However, it is the responsibility of employees to perform work at their preferred time and method. It is evident through research that more than 92% of millennials prefer to work with flexibility. Surveys on the phenomenon have also revealed that more than 70% of employees in the UK feel that flexible working is attractive to them.
It is also found that 80% of women and 52% of men prefer to work with flexibility (Forbes, 2020). Such admiration among women is valid as personal needs, as well as family-related needs, are high among women. Women prefer flexible working to provide extra time for their children and family.
Although the need for flexible work is high in the UK, the supply is low as only 10% of employers provide an opportunity for fileable work. In simpler words, the demand and supply of flexible work are high. In this regard, it can be said that the UK government is showing its openness to the concept of flexible working. This is because the law, published in 2014, allows any employee to ask for a flexible work option.
Business organisations have been considering introducing a flexible working policy, but the approach towards flexible working is slow. With the development of new advanced technologies, companies are considering adopting a flexible work approach (Wood, 2018).
However, technological, social, and environmental factors drive organisations to adopt flexible working concepts. Flexible work strategies are also providing benefits to smaller organisations. This is because flexible working or work-from-home opportunities are helping companies save maintenance costs.
Companies based on customer service are mostly gaining the benefits of flexible working. The demand for customer service exists 24×7, and flexible work allows companies to allocate employees to solve customer problems whenever the need for flexibility in work raise (Prowse & Prowse, 2015).
Retention of employees also becomes easier for companies adopting a flexible work approach. Many employees tend to quit their job if the timing management or issues in the family raises. However, work from home allows organisations to retain employees by providing flexibility in their work roles.
The core concept of work-life balance is the management of equality between work and personal life’s timing. In contemporary times management of a proper work-life balance has become a challenge for the employees. Certain reasons involved that are enforcing employees to face poor work-life balance.
The common reasons for poor work-life balance are increased responsibility for work and working for a longer time (Guest, 2004). Psychologically, it is considerable for employees that a better work-life balance helps in reducing stress, lowering the risk of burnout, and an improved sense of wellbeing.
These are the benefits of a better work-life balance for the employees, while the advantages also exist for the employers. For example, empowers experienced a low rate of absenteeism among the staff stable psychology to work with more effort and efficiency (Forbes, 2020).
Having the presence of a loyal as well as a productive workforce and savings of costs from a high attrition rate of employees are also the benefits associated with work-life balance. Research studies have revealed that work-life balance is not only about the separation of time for work and personal life,. Rather it is about flexibility in work. This is the area where the core relationship between work-life balance and flexible work exists.
If an employee work with the approach of flexible work, then it is not only beneficial for personal health and the employer, rather it also provides benefits to the family. The family of the person gets extra time to spend with their loved ones, and it helps in having a better relationship with the members of the family.
If the employee has children, then time management with flexible work and work-life balance helps in nurturing them (Rubery et al., 2016). A bond is also being built with the children that are helpful for the children’s development.
Having better physical health also becomes easier with such an approach, and it helps staff to maintain positive physical health for the long term, which is good for the future too. With the consideration of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it can be said that work-life balance meets with the love and belongings-related needs of employees (Hopper, 2019).
The love and belonging related needs of employees are related to family, affection, and social collaboration. In this regard, it can be said that work-life balance provides an opportunity to the employees for building a connection with the family members and building affection.
Relationship between flexible working and work-life balance
The changing scenario of flexible working is allowing employees to work remotely from the home environment. With the consideration of traditional approaches and past research, it can be said that flexible working is good for managing work-life balance.
However, recent researches on the areas express that flexible working is not effective to manage work-life balance (Shagvaliyeva & Yazdanifard, 2014). This is because of the extra dependency on flexible working, enforcing companies to ask employees to work whenever the needs arise.
Due to the lack of specific time of work, employees are unable to become independent in their work activities. Not only the issue but the issue with maintaining leisure activities and time is also becoming difficult for the employees.
As the employees had to be available 24×7 for their work, thus, it becomes difficult for the workforce to find out specific times for such activities (Dizaho et al., 2017). Working from home also causes employees to face certain issues, like internet connectivity issues. In such cases, they had to wait for a stable connection, and they could not leave their work midway in such a situation too.
In the case of managerial-level workforces, flexible work culture has become a threat, and it is making their work role difficult. Communication is one of the keys to the work role of managerial employees. Due to this reason, interaction with the employees is difficult for managers.
It is a fact that interaction with the employees in the face to face manner is easy and convenient that is difficult for the managers (Chung & Van der Lippe, 2018). Such issues are leading managers to face consequences in terms of work-life stress. Their responsibility for work is also increasing due to the reason, and time management, a key part of work-life balance, is also becoming challenging.
From research, it is also seen that the parent or caring employees are observing a better work-life balance. This is helpful for the employees to manage their life responsibilities and work-life balance. The workplace morale also gets improved for the employees as they think the employers are flexible for their work and providing opportunities to manage their personal lives too.
Flexible working is also providing an opportunity for employees to attend office at their convenience (ter Hoeven & van Zoonen, 2015). In simpler words, there is no strict timetable to attending office; instead, the staff can attend the office based on their flexibility and can easily complete their daily work hours. With such an approach, the issues related to health and transportation that impact their performances can be circumvented.
The traditional approach or rules of work had the policy of pay cuts in case an employee attended and reached the office late. But with the innovative, flexible work approach, employees can work without having the tension of attending office at a specific time.
Flexible working practices are significant for both staff and employers. Regardless of flexibility was familiar with the workplace to help staff with kids or employees who care about the family to manage their time between work and life.
Flexibility empowers specialists to control the time, and process of work. While commitment to family matters also becomes easy for the employees to manage. In other words, it can also be said the employees can have a proper source of income along with more quality time with their families (Dilmaghani, 2020).
It can be said that the use of flexible working practices insistently impacts work-life balance and overall life satisfaction of the staff. Freelancing or independent work culture has also become a trend in recent times. With flexible working, the employees found it easy to manage their office work or freelancing, which results in having a better work-life balance.
Another point to be considered is that many work roles require employees to perform a certain number of specific tasks. In office culture, employees had to spend the whole time even after completing the allotted work even when they had completed their specific tasks (Buchheit et al., 2016). However, flexible work culture allows the experienced employees to complete work in a short time to spend the extra with their families. This has become a huge contribution or relation between the work-life balance and flexible work culture.
This essay has been done to understand the role of changing flexible work culture on the work-life balance of employees. By analysing and evaluating the topic, it is concluded that flexible working is becoming a trend in the work environment.
The existing Covid-19 pandemic has made a huge influence on the concept of flexible working or working from home a part of flexible working. Flexible working basically provides an advantage to the employees to have a better work-life balance and manage their own personal life.
Flexible working allows employees to meet their love and belonging needs by spending time with family and building up a better bond with the children. The government is also encouraging flexible work culture by implementing rules for flexible work.
For example, the government of the UK has allowed every employee to ask for flexible work if they have the need. But it is a fact that most of the companies are not allowing flexible working. Although, it is understood that flexible working is not good for employees from every sector. For example, customer service-based employees have to be free at any time so that they can solve issues. On the other hand, staff working with a task-based approach find it easy to work flexibly as it helps them is saving of time.
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