Different approaches to flexible working from employers have led to inequalities in the UK workforce.
The CIPD’s survey found that while the COVID-19 pandemic has driven a huge increase in working from home, 44% of employees have not worked from home at all since the beginning of the crisis.
The majority of those employees (92%) said that this is because the nature of their job doesn’t allow them to.
Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, said there needs to be a new understanding about what flexible working is.
He said: “Employers need to embrace flexible working arrangements beyond home working, to give opportunity and choice to all.
“Employees may not always be able to change where they work, but they should have more choice and a say in when and how they work.”
Cheese also said being able to build in other flexible working arrangements, such as changes to hours, term-time working or job shares, will empower people to have greater control and flexibility in their working life.
He said: “This is good for inclusion and opening up opportunities to people who have other constraints in being able to work standard hour weeks or in getting to a place of work.
“But it’s also good for people's wellbeing and productivity. Fairness of opportunity in working flexibly ensures organisations do not end up with divisions or a two-tier workforce.”
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The pandemic has led to some businesses changing their flexible working policies to better suit employees.
London housing association Peabody announced it is currently overhauling its approach to flexible working and removing the process of formal flexible working requests.
Instead, its employees will be able to agree flexible working arrangements with their line managers and team, rather than making a formal request through HR.
Speaking to HR magazine Andrea Gordon, director of HR at Peabody said the new people strategy has been developed based on what its people have said matters to them.
She said: “Our ambition is to deliver a new approach that will bring a better work-life balance, increased performance and productivity, more fulfilling roles, a more diverse employee population, better physical and mental wellbeing and increased employee engagement.”
This ambition, added Gordon, will help the organisation achieve its group strategy and business goals.
The CIPD has launched the #FlexFrom1st campaign to encourage more employers to support flexible working for all and the right to request flexible working from day one of employment.
To reinforce these principles, it has also called for a change in law to make the right to request flexible working a day-one right for all employees.
The CIPD surveyed 2,133 employees across the UK between the 10 December 2020 and 10 January 2021.