Survey: 11 Percent of UK Workers Want Flexible Hours

want flexible hours

There’s been plenty of debate over the last several years about the pros and cons of flexible hours for workers. But whether businesses think it is a positive or a negative, it’s a concept that is becoming more commonplace in workplaces around the world.

In fact, the U.K. enacted a new law that allows workers to request flexible hours. The law states that any employee who has been with a company for at least 26 weeks has the right to request a flexible working arrangement. The employer must then deal with the request in a reasonable manner. This means they should allow the employee to state their case and offer an appeal if applicable. However, they can still deny the request if they have a good business reason for doing so.

Previously, only parents and other caregivers had the legal right to request flexible working hours from their employers.

But the recent changes have already made an impact on the UK’s working landscape. According to a survey by conference calling service PowWowNow, 8 percent of UK workers submitted a flexible working request to their employer within a week of the law being enacted. And another 11 percent have said they definitely plan to do so. The survey also found roughly 35 percent of those surveyed said they might consider requesting flexible work hours at some point.

These numbers aren’t exactly shocking — even here in the U.S. In fact, way back in 2011, Small Business Trends staff writer Rieva Lesonsky reported:

“….slew of data indicating that working remotely is no longer a rarity, but becoming commonplace, you can add the latest Work Without Walls findings from Microsoft. Microsoft’s research shows that enabling employees to work remotely is fast becoming not a perk, but a business imperative.”

Still, some employers have continued to worry about the impact on their businesses of a more flexible work schedule. Citing data, again from the UK, in 2013 David Wallace reported that:

  • 56 percent of employers feared productivity would decline.
  • 40 percent worried about the blurring of work and home boundaries.
  • And 50 percent expressed concern that teamwork would suffer.

By contrast, employees have a completely different perspective. According to the data:

  • 75 percent of employees felt it would increase job satisfaction.
  • 72 percent said more flexible hours directly impacted work/life balance.
  • And 54 percent said it would make them more productive.

In the end, however, employer concerns may be unwarranted. As Lesonsky reports:

“The 2012 National Study of Employers, released by the Families and Work Institute (FWI) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), found that U.S. employers are offering employees more options for managing when and where they work. The tradeoff for the employees, however, is that employers offering more flexibility are also requiring them to essentially work more.”

So, even if you do consider giving your employees more flexibility in their work schedules, be sure you don’t end up burning your employees out by making them work much more in the process, Lesonsky suggests.

Time clock Photo via Shutterstock


Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

7 Reactions
  1. I thought that percentage would be higher, actually. However, there is the 35% that might consider asking in the future.

    I think approving flexi-hour requests will make for happier employers, which will in turn have a positive impact all round.

    • I think it could have a positive impact too. At least I hope so!

      • It will kind of be a self-fulfilling prophecy if flexi-hour requests aren’t approved. By refusing, employees end up feeling a bit more stifled and dissatisfied, and that may end up affecting productivity anyway.

  2. Well, I think most workers want flexible hours. It allows them to do what they have to do and not be afraid that they’ll be late for work.