Businesses could soon be deluged by flexible working requests - but that's a good thing

young workers being productive in an office meeting
(Image credit: Shutterstock / Gorodenkoff)

As the UK prepares to enforce the Flexible Working Bill on April 6, a new study by Slack reveals that over half of small and medium businesses (SMBs) are poised to receive a wave of flexible working requests.

The bill will allow all workers to make a statutory request for flexible working from day one of employment, with changes considered for how long, when and where they work. Workers will also be able to make two requests a year, up from one previously, and employers will have two months to make a decision, down from three.

New Slack research indicates that the UK’s Flexible Working Bill could be a good thing, as it is expected to significantly impact the country's employment landscape.

UK prepares for Flexible Working Bill

A study of 1,000 UK desk workers found strong demand for flexible working arrangements, with three in four believing they will enhance productivity and stimulate the UK economy. Slack estimates that more than half (55%) of employees plan to make flexible working requests when the new rules come into effect at the end of this week, coinciding with the new tax year.

However, with fewer SMBs (67%) adopting flexible working compared to larger enterprises (81%), the bill is expected to see smaller companies receive an influx of flexible working requests.

Alarmingly, the study notes that seven in 10 (71%) UK SMBs have not proactively informed their employees about the forthcoming changes, with one in three not having the option of flexible working.

Although SMBs expressed concern over productivity impacts and work quality levels when it comes to flexible working, Slack revealed that two-thirds of SMB workers were more likely to apply for a job based on the company’s flexible workforce policy, highlighting potentially missed talent for companies unwilling to explore flexible working. The figure stands at three-quarters (76%) among 18-34-year-olds.

With the Flexible Working Bill set to introduce one of the biggest changes to the country’s workforce ever seen, Slack’s report urges businesses to proactively adapt to meet the evolving needs and expectations of an increasingly digital and flexible workforce or risk losing talent and sacrificing growth. 

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Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!