Londoners work less flexibly than elsewhere, despite longer commutes 0

flexible workingLondoners are less likely to work flexibly than the rest of the UK, despite having much longer commuting times. This is according to the results of new research by the CIPD which found that many Londoners are travelling for the equivalent of at least one full working day in a ‘typical’ week. They spend an average of 47 minutes travelling to work each way compared to the national average of 31 minutes, and their average travel to work time increases to 56 minutes each way, if you consider a combination of both employees who live in London and those that commute into the capital from outside the M25. The data also reveals that flexible workers in London are more satisfied with their jobs, feel under less pressure and have better work-life balance than those who don’t work flexibly.  In its policy programme, Opportunity through work: A manifesto for London, the CIPD is calling for a campaign to increase the uptake of flexible working in the Capital.

It says the next Mayor of London needs to work with employers and professional bodies to achieve this, which will improve working lives, support efforts to increase diversity and inclusion and help individuals balance work with other commitments, such as child or elder care, or to support their lifestyle.

The CIPD’s survey comes four years after the London 2012 Olympics, which was hoped to be a catalyst for change in terms of how businesses and individuals in London approach flexible working while taking pressure off road and rail infrastructure in and around the capital.

It found that despite having much longer commuting times than the national average, fewer employees living in London work flexibly in some way (52%) compared to the national average (54%).

The CIPD’s research highlights the positive impact that flexible working has on the working lives of people living in London:

  • Almost seven in ten (69%) employees living in London who work flexibly report they are satisfied or very satisfied with their jobs, compared to 52% of employees that don’t work flexible
  • Just 24% of flexible workers living in London report being under excessive pressure every day or once or twice a week, compared to 42% of non-flexible workers
  • Almost a quarter (23%) of flexibly working Londoners are very satisfied with their work-life balance compared to just one in ten (10%) who don’t work flexibly
  • The top benefits of flexible working cited by employees living in London who already work flexibly are better work-life balance (53%), less time spent commuting (32%), reduced stress (30%) and improved productivity (30%)

David D’Souza, Head of CIPD London, comments: “There’s a clear divide in the quality of working lives between London workers who work flexibly and those that don’t. The London 2012 Olympics was supposed to have heralded a new dawn for flexible working in the capital but progress appears to have stalled, significantly impacting the quality of people’s working lives and their productivity.

“Flexible workers are happier workers but there is still far too much focus on traditional 9-5 work cultures and an ongoing challenge of businesses placing too much value on time spent at the desk and not enough on people’s actual outputs. Where Londoners are working flexibly, this is mostly restricted to part-time working or flexi-time unless they are a middle or senior manager. Rather than being the preserve of more senior managers, the opportunity to work flexibly in different ways needs to become the norm for many more employees.”

The CIPD’s survey shows that there is significant support among workers for a government-led campaign to boost the uptake of flexible working to reduce the time and cost of commuting.

Working Londoners identify their top three government priorities for reducing the time and cost of commuting as reducing the cost of public transport fares (44%), investing in the rail and tube network (37%) and leading a campaign to increase the uptake in flexible working (20%).

D’Souza continues: “The nature of work is changing. We need real action on flexible working from Government, the new Mayor of London and from businesses. As new generations enter the labour market with different expectations about how they want to work and older generations stay in work longer, the rigid working habits too many employers still abide by will have to change. Of course some people are restricted in their ability to work flexibly because of the nature of their jobs but far too often it’s the attitudes of managers and business leaders that are the major obstacles to increasing the use of different types of flexible working.

“The next Mayor of London should work with employers and bodies like the CIPD to lead a campaign to change attitudes, learn from best practice and expand the types of flexible working available. This should help to positively reshape work in London and open up employment opportunities for key groups who can struggle with the typical 9-5, office based working arrangement, such those who need to balance working life with caring duties and studying.”

Click Opportunity through work: A manifesto for London, to download.