Is the typical UK workplace inclined to be flexible? Or are
we all sucked into the long-hours culture, blindly shackling ourselves to
the mill like slaves?
The recently released report from the UK Department for
Education and Employment (DFEE) Work-Life Balance 2000 paints a mixed
picture. It shows growing awareness of work-life issues, quite widespread
flexible working practices, but also a dominant long hours culture.
Highlights of the report include:
the most common type of "flexible" work is
25% of employees work in workplaces which offer flexitime
about 20% of employees work from home occasionally
24% of men work from home occasionally, and 16% of women
35% of managers work from home occasionally.
80% of those who work from home are managers
a third of employees not currently working from home said
they would like to
the most frequently cited reasons for working from home
given by employees were work related. Few employees cite factors related to
caring as a reason.
Most workplaces have staff working in excess of standard
almost half of all employees work additional hours
those who work extra hours do so by an average 9.6 extra
hours per week
almost 11% of full-time employees work 60 hours or more per
week - typically those in professional or managerial jobs
the employees most likely to work long hours are men in
cou0ple households with dependent children
Measures to create a balance
The majority of women returning from maternity leave switch
to part-time work
more women (56%)prefer greater flexibility on return rather
than longer leave
very few employers provide workplaces crèches (2%) or
subsidised nursery places (1%)
employers are more willing to pay for facilities to relieve
symptoms of stress than to prevent it in the first place
These figures are part of a baseline study - future research
will show if the government's Work-Life campaigning is making a difference.
It is however to compare some of the figures with earlier surveys of working
hours and of flexible working practices.
The picture that comes through is one of progress more in
some areas than others: flexitime and part-time work have become
well-established, while home working is practised by managers who
won't trust their staff to do likewise!
Long hours continue - and there is little evidence that
flexible working is actively introduced in order to achieve work-life