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Developing career resilience
Developing career resilience

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2.3 Flexible working

Whichever sector you work in employers are always looking for ways to improve productivity, and this can often require greater flexibility from their employees.

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Figure 5

Many employers are exploring alternative working arrangements for their staff, often broadly described as ‘flexible working’.

Activity 4 Flexible working

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Use your preferred internet search engine to research ‘flexible working’ and list the different types you come up with in the box below.

As you list the different options, consider the following:

  1. To what extent is this a work style in the sector or work role that you are in, or interested in? For example, homeworking is not going to be possible for aircraft cabin crew!
  2. Is it a work style that is increasing in your preferred work role?
  3. What benefits might there be to your employer?
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This is a useful way to explore some options you might not have considered before.

The UK government (GOV.UK, n.d.) lists the following types of flexible working:

  • job sharing
  • working from home
  • part-time working
  • compressed hours (full time hours over fewer days)
  • flexitime (working core hours but choosing when you start and finish work)
  • annualised hours (working a certain number of hours over a year but with some flexibility about when you work)
  • staggered hours (different start/finish/break times from other workers)
  • phased retirement (reducing hours and working part time).

If any of the options you researched sounded interesting, it might be something to discuss with your employer. Don’t just talk about it from the perspective of benefits to you though – think about the benefits for them. Also, are there compromises you might propose in return for this flexibility? For example, could you suggest working from the office one day a week if you were a homeworker the rest of the time?

Flexibility is an important element of career resilience. For example:

  • The more flexible you can be in negotiations with your employer, the more likely you are to come to an agreement that suits everyone.
  • A flexible working style that suits your work-life balance is more likely to make you feel supported by your employer and lead to greater job satisfaction.

Working from home

This flexible working opportunity touches on other topics you’ve explored this week. It has been a particularly common experience during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many workers were encouraged to stay at home. It is also something that has become easier with developments in technology allowing for virtual face-to-face meetings and access to shared documents.

For many people it has been an enjoyable and productive experience, but for some it can lead to feelings of isolation.

Watch this short video from Mental Health First Aid England to hear some hints and tips about how to reduce those feelings of isolation and support your mental health. This, in turn, will enhance your career resilience.

Video 3 Supporting your mental health while working from home
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Their advice to:

  • get set up
  • get moving
  • get connected
  • get support

is very relevant to maintaining career resilience too.