coworking with graphics shutterstock_223244488It’s not just us. The CBI, the UK’s top business lobbying organisation, has urged companies to do even more to encourage flexible working – and to make sure employees know about flexible working options, right from the time they are hired.

Back in November 2014, the CBI hosted the Great Business Debate, in collaboration with online community Mumsnet, to discuss the future of flexible working in the UK. The good news? A You Gov poll commissioned by the CBI found that nearly 9 in every 10 firms offered some form of flexible working. The not-so-good news? Some 42% of employees felt uncomfortable asking their employer about more flexibility. And 37% of respondents were finding it difficult to balance work and family commitments.

Katja Hall, the CBI’s Deputy Director-General, welcomed the fact that the majority of companies were offering some form of flexible working – whether that was flexible hours or the option to work part-time or from home. However, she called on businesses to do more, urging companies to:

  • “challenge outdated assumptions”, giving staff more confidence to ask about flexible working

  • build flexibility in – from the job ad onwards.

 In other words – don’t make flexibility a special case. Instead, make jobs flexible from the start, so there’s no need anymore for that awkward chat with your boss, or to struggle on in silence with hours that just don’t work for you.

Interestingly, the survey found little difference in attitudes between men and women – with men just as reluctant to ask about flexi-working as women, and similar numbers of men and women reporting difficulties balancing work and family life. Katja Hall reinforced the message that flexi working is not just a ‘Mum thing’ or even a ‘parent thing’, saying “Flexibility is not just for parents, but for all staff. It can work for everyone – including business.” Hear, hear.

You can check out the full results of the CBI/YouGov survey here.

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