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Beyond Hybrid: the Current State of Flexible Working

Issued by Acas, this discussion paper analysing Acas helpline calls looks at the current perspectives and challenges people face around flexible working.

A YouGov survey commissioned by Acas found that over half (55%) of employers in Great Britain expect an increase in staff working remotely or from home part of the week, while a report by Work After Lockdown showed that 7 in 10 (73%) employees wanted to adopt a hybrid work arrangement.

According to the paper, research suggests that there are some fundamental issues that relate to all forms of flexible working that, if left unaddressed, will undermine all efforts to rethink flexible work arrangements across the board. There is growing evidence to suggest that there remains a significant mismatch between employees’ preferences towards different types of flexible working and employers’ offerings.

In order to further understanding of current perspectives and the challenges facing people at work around flexible working, an analysis of a series of calls to the Acas helpline was undertaken and it found:

  • Varying levels of awareness of flexible working, with many employers and individuals aware of the statutory right to request but limited in their understanding of the statutory procedure.

  • Concerns around the fairness and reasonableness of requests and responses, with misperceptions of a right to ‘have’ rather than a right to ‘request’.

  • A lack of confidence in reaching a resolution following a refusal, particularly where internal procedures such as an appeal have been exhausted.

Analysis was taken of 50 calls made to the Acas helpline between April and May 2021. The sample consists of 0.7% of the calls discussing flexible working and 1.3% of all Acas helpline calls during this period. Mirroring the wider trend of Acas helpline users, most of the calls originated from employees or those calling on behalf of employees.

It is suggested that the findings of this analysis offer useful insights into the types of issues experienced and complement existing quantitative survey evidence in this area.

The paper is available in full here.

Acas October 2021

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