Since the 1980s technological advances have opened up opportunities to work from virtually anywhere and flexible working of various types has become increasingly common. Flexibility in when and where work is carried out has benefits for both employers and employees as it can help people to manage the pressures of modern life, reduce stress and improve work-life balance.
'Flexible working ' covers any variations to the traditional nine to five working day including those which cater for groups with particular needs or wishes and others which involve standard working hours but allow them to be carried back or forward to provide additional free time. Well-known examples of types of flexible working hours are given below, together with their main advantages:
- Voluntary reduced working hours: opens up work opportunities for a wider range of people
- Term time working: facilitates availability to work, usually for those caring for young children
- Employment breaks: help to retain the service of people who need a temporary break from work
- Sabbaticals: enable employees to fulfil study or travel ambitions, then return to work.
- Compressed hours: allow, for example, a four or four and a half-day working week, or a nine-day working fortnight, where the same number of hours a week are worked, but within a shorter period
- Annualised hours: reduces the overall number of hours and overtime worked and may increase productivity by making seasonal variations easier to manage
- Job sharing: gives employers more continuity in cases of sickness or leave, while job sharers can be more fresh and enthusiastic than full time employees.
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