Flexible working

Flexible working

What are flexible working arrangements and why are some people against them? Can companies benefit from offering flexible working arrangements to their employees?

Do the preparation task first. Then read the article and do the exercises.


Fred works for a traditional company that expects him to start at 8.30 a.m. and leave at 5.30 p.m. or later every day. Most of his work is done on a project basis and, as a manager, he is responsible for the quality of work that is produced and for meeting deadlines. On most days of the week, there is often extra work to be done on a project, and Fred stays late in the office or brings his work home. Occasionally, when he finishes all his work before 5.30 p.m., he finds himself hanging around, chatting with colleagues and waiting for the time he can officially leave. 

With two small children at school, Fred has to use up his annual leave in order to take time off when his children are ill, when he wants to attend their sports day or any time the kids have a half-day at school. Fred also lives an hour's drive from his office and therefore spends two hours a day commuting. 

In the interest of increasing productivity and making better use of his time, Fred suggested the idea of flexible working to his director. His director, however, rejected his suggestion, saying that he saw flexible working as problematic for the company.

Fred's director isn't alone in this thinking. In many organisations, there is still a culture in which the employee who arrives the earliest and leaves the latest is considered the most hard-working, and many bosses still believe that they can’t trust their employees to work remotely. They worry that there are too many distractions for workers at home or that team working and communication won't be as good if workers are physically disconnected from each other. Some employers think management is about the close supervision of employees to direct and control not just what is done but also exactly how it is done.

However, the nature of a lot of work today involves meeting deadlines, achieving certain objectives and hitting targets. As most people who've worked in these kinds of environments know, productivity is less about how many hours you spend in the office and more about how well you meet those goals. Even though they're outside the office, the remote worker who is not meeting targets is quickly noticed. Micromanaging bosses don't help productivity either. In fact, research shows that controlling bosses can have a negative effect on their employees' performance.

In contrast, giving employees the freedom to organise their working schedule to fit with their personal life means they are working when they are best able to engage fully with their work and are therefore more efficient and productive. Having choices in their working environment and timetable creates responsible and motivated workers who are likely to get better results, knowing they can meet the demands of both their job and their personal life. 

Whether it is giving employees the right to work remotely, offering job sharing or part-time working, or allowing non-fixed start and finish times, flexible working is not just about practical working arrangements but also about a culture and a mindset. For example, many remote workers find themselves working past their working hours, partly because there is no commuting to mark the boundaries between work and personal life, making it hard to switch off from work. Companies might need to consider training both workers and management staff to help them better understand what flexible working is, how to implement it and how to encourage a results-driven approach. Only then can flexible working truly result in happier employees, increased productivity and better employee retention. 

Task 1

Task 2


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Submitted by kenan.zero on Thu, 21/12/2023 - 14:42


I believe that companies should offer their employees the option to work remotely or have flexible work hours.

Submitted by Nandar Su Hlaing on Tue, 13/09/2022 - 15:53


As an employee, I agree that companies should offer flexible working arrangements, but most of the employers don't like to work remotely, they always want to meet their employee in the office. They like normal working hours and want to work overtime in the office.

Submitted by Jazmin11 on Mon, 11/07/2022 - 20:23


I think home office is an excellent opcion for some people whose jobs allowed not to be face to face with their customers, for example, people who works in tourism, gastronomy, etc.. those areas required to be there to serve or help their clients. By the other hand, managers, accountants, etc, they just need a computer in most of the cases, so they could work perfeclty from home.
Also it´s a good opcion to big cities, because it helps reduce the pollution, having lees people commuting.

Submitted by M19 on Wed, 19/08/2020 - 10:53

Only to some extent and for certain tasks but not entirely for all jobs. Obviously, there are variations in the nature of work being done where some actually fit into the flexibility category and other forms which do not. Work that is done manually such as carpentry, construction, designing etc. will definitely have to be fully supervised with repeated demos otherwise quality cannot be guaranteed. So, in as much as flexibility seems advantageous for most companies, the type of skill applied on job is always important to consider.

Submitted by senes19 on Sun, 16/08/2020 - 10:53

I think this question depends on which profession you are busy with in. I mean some jobs just require office conditions. But some of them alright adapts to remotely working. Additionally, for this sort of profession, commuting on the road is to waste time. Therefore , I believe working at home for software developments is more efficient. Of course working athomes and at offices has different specifications. And also it depends on the character of employee. To decide who should work outside and who should stay at office depends on bosses personal opinion. The boss should take consideration scientific datas and researches. In doing so, It would be useful choice for him or her. As a result I belive more campanies should offer working remotely their staff by being carefully their task, mission and their characters.

Submitted by Wiola on Sun, 07/06/2020 - 14:40

Flexible hours provide possitive attitudes for both - employers and employees. Employers have a possibility to handover bigger responsibility to employees, who need to take care "more personaly" for tasks/deadlines, nonetheless work schedule is up to employees preferences (the main rule is respect the deadlines. Flexible hours also show a trust between parties, currently is seen that flexible hours are mainly as an attitude assigned to long-work experience employees or managers, who are trusted for companies boards.

Submitted by rl1985 on Mon, 27/04/2020 - 18:58

Thank you for the lesson.

Submitted by Ajat on Wed, 22/04/2020 - 14:20

Yes i do think that more companies should offer flexible working arrangements specially with the managers who have to work sometimes past their normal hours. Flexible working is the minimum to keep motivation and increase profitability.

Submitted by Juan_Pablo22 on Mon, 13/01/2020 - 04:19

Hi teacher! I give Juan Pablo Rodrigo Aguilar Argueta. Here I leave my job good nigth English of trade
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Submitted by Joel-0505 on Fri, 10/01/2020 - 17:08

It's a really good informative article. thanks guys. Now, would you mind helping me to understand this: "an organisation's ability to keep its staff and not have them leave the company" this is coming from preparation task (the last sentence). I'd like to know the meaning of "have" within the phrase, is it like "let" or "allow" thanks for advance