Flexible working vs remote working

9th December 2019
By Tom Ladle

Being able to escape the 9-to-5, a culture of presenteeism and stifling office hierarchies is a dream many people crave – and the facts back it up. Our 2019 flexible working survey found that 81% of people said flexible working would make a job more attractive to them. But when it comes to asking your employer for changes in your work hours, or branching out on your own, it helps to understand the new terminology. Here’s what the new work language means.

So what does flexible working actually mean?

Think of this as the umbrella term for all the different types of work options now available to us. Flexible working simply means working outside of a normal working pattern. It’s a way to work that suits your needs. If you’re in an office, flexible working could mean compressed hours (where you fit a week’s worth of hours into fewer, longer days), flexitime (where you work a set amount of ‘core hours’ and are flexible with the hours you work before and after these set hours) or annualised hours (where your number of hours for the year are set and when you choose to work – is up to you).

Is flexible working the same as remote working?

Sort of. Remote working is a type of flexible working, which means you aren’t commuting in to an office every day, and can also be referred to as ‘working from home’. Remote working means working from anywhere. In fact, some remote workers don’t even ‘meet’ their employers at all, instead, connecting with them digitally and from anywhere around the world. But for most of us, remote working ends up being based from our kitchen table or local café.

Do I have to be freelance to work remotely?

Not at all. Although remote working is hugely popular with freelancers, small business owners and start-ups, there are big changes happening in organisations, too. A report by Buffer found that 91% of respondents who are business owners said they intend to support remote working.

So am I able to ask my boss to work flexibly?

In the UK, you have the right by law to ask your employer to work flexibly. There’s a good guide to the process at Gov.uk – although your employer can turn this request down. Then it’s up to you how you proceed. The old-fashioned negative views of flexible working are dying out and more companies are recognising the great opportunities flexible working options offer them and their staff.

All in all, the rise of flexible working shows that being ‘at work’ used to be a place you went to – now it’s more a state of mind.

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