Flexibility in the Workplace: An Exploratory Study on the Impact of Flexible Working Arrangements on Employee and Organisational Performance
Over the past few decades there has been an increasing use of flexible working in workplaces, through part-time, temporary, fixed term, job share, term-time and remote working opportunities, which has resulted in adaptations to traditional workplace environments in many organisations (Maitland and Thomson 2014; Austin-Egole et al. 2020). There has also been a gradual, but slow, increase in the use of remote working over the last few decades with 1.5% of employees working remotely in 1981 compared to 4.5% in 2019 (Office for National Statistics 2020). However, the Covid-19 pandemic has seen a significant rise in the incidence of remote working as in April 2020 86% of UK employees reported that they were working from home (Cameron 2020). This research study examined employees’ and employers’ attitudes towards flexible working in relation to the perceived impacts on both employee and organisational performance. This study adopted a quantitative approach, through the use of online questionnaires targeted towards both employers and employees. A total of 62 employees responded to the employee questionnaire, which was significantly higher than the 11 employers who completed the employer specific questionnaire. Results from this research have highlighted that generally workplace flexibility is viewed positively by both employees and employers. Additionally, findings indicated that employees and employers considered the impacts of flexible working arrangements to be increased job satisfaction, enhanced individual productivity and a better work-life balance for employees. These findings reflect those from similar quantitative studies such as Felstead and Henseke (2017), Gregar and Shah (2019), Eversole and Crowder (2020) and Ozimek (2020) whose findings have all highlighted that an employee’s job satisfaction, engagement and organisational commitment increases as a result of being given some degree of flexibility, which in turn then positively influences the overall performance of an organisation. Moreover, results have drawn attention to the impact that the pandemic has had in transforming the way in work has been, and will continue to be, carried out due to realisation of the benefits that flexible working can bring to both organisations and employees. The results from this study have also indicated that there is likely to be continued use of remote working as a result of learnings throughout the pandemic.