finance

Flexible working has 'hugely positive impact' on Scottish workers



New ways of working are becoming the norm, and more than half of Scots (54%) are now working in home and hybrid roles.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s third annual Working Lives Scotland report revealed that more than three quarters of Scots (76%) who work flexibly say that it has had a positive impact on their quality of life.

Those working flexibly are also more likely to be satisfied with their job, report better relationships with their managers and higher levels of job autonomy.

CIPD commissioned YouGov to survey 6,262 workers – including 1,035 in Scotland – between January and March.

The report shows that many of those who worked full-time from home during the pandemic have now switched to hybrid working, with 15% of employees in Scotland working fully from home and 39% working in a hybrid pattern – with the majority of these workers working from home for 50% or more of their time.

However, 31% of Scots work in roles that cannot be done from home – for example those in lower-paid roles in caring, leisure and other services – and a further 14% say that they do not want to work from home at all.

The CIPD is warning that organisations need to consider offering a variety of forms of flexible working, to make sure that they can retain employees in a challenging labour market, and to ensure fairness by enabling everyone to reap the benefits that flexible working affords.

The report also highlights some of the downsides to flexible working.

Scotland’s hybrid workers are struggling the most with work-life balance, with commuting time having a significant impact. Furthermore, the report finds that 61% of employees report some levels of overwork, and 14% say they work 15 more hours a week than they would like to.

Other key findings from the report include:

  • Only 35% of those earning less than £20,000 per year say they can keep up with their bills and credit commitments without any difficulties.
  • 29% of employees feel that their work impacts negatively on their mental health, with 24% reporting negative impacts on their physical health.
  • 34% of employees feel their job offers good prospects for career advancement, while 55% believe their job offers good opportunities to develop their skills.
  • 34% of all employees in Scotland report their workload as too heavy in a normal week, with even worse figures for key workers and senior managers.
  • Employees in the public sector are more likely to feel that they are in meaningful jobs, and those who feel they are doing useful work are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs.

Lee Ann Panglea, head of the CIPD in Scotland and Northern Ireland, said: “We are at the heart of the transition to a post-pandemic workplace, with new ways of working now becoming embedded in our working lives.

“Organisations really need to look at job design and consider how other forms of flexible working such as flexi-time, job sharing and reduced hours could work for those whose jobs cannot be done from home.”

Marek Zemanik, the CIPD’s senior public policy adviser in Scotland, who wrote the report, said: “On many of the measures around fair work, we are seeing a return to pre-pandemic findings, but with employers facing challenges around skills and labour shortages and rising costs, and many employees worrying about the cost of living, we are all facing really challenging times in the year ahead.

“Responsible organisations also need to look more widely at how they can make work better to support the wellbeing of their workers, which will in turn lead to more productive organisations and ultimately a stronger economy.”

Separately, more than half of employers in Scotland (53%) have seen an increase in hybrid working amongst staff compared to before the pandemic, according to a survey by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas).

It commissioned YouGov to survey 1,074 adults – of which 75 were from Scotland – at the start of April, asking businesses in Scotland about changes to working practices that they have seen compared to before the pandemic.

The poll found that more than two fifths of Scotland employers (43%) have seen an increase in staff working from home full-time.

Acas assistant director for Scotland, Ian Proctor, said: “The pandemic has been a turbulent period for businesses in Scotland and many have had to explore new ways of working.

“There will also be some employees who prefer not to work at home or find it impractical, so businesses should explore solutions that work for all employees and ensure nobody is disadvantaged.”

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