Flexibility works: Why people choose flexible work



Flexibility and good work go hand in hand. Understanding motivators for individuals and businesses is key to maintaining and enhancing two-way flexibility that benefits all parties. Here are some core messages from our research:

Flexible work is the new normal – two in five people in Great Britain (39 per cent) have worked as a temporary worker. As people follow less linear career paths, flexible work will become increasingly common.

Flexible workers are often driven by choice – people on temporary contracts choose to work that way because of the opportunities this type of work brings. The ability to earn money quickly is an important driver – one in four (25 per cent) individuals flagged the ability to earn money quickly as the major benefit of working flexibly.

Flexible work provides an increasingly important means of helping people to manage transitions and redundancies.

Flexible work is done by all kinds of people – different kinds of flexible work are common among people of all ages, genders and social classes. This challenges latent pre-conceptions about the demographics of temporary workers. Older workers are using flexible work to return to the labour market – one in five (20 per cent) people aged 65+ have worked as a contractor or freelancer in their working life, with 16 per cent of those working in this way in the last year.

Flexible workers use this experience to progress – two in three (68 per cent) who had previously worked as a flexible worker and three in four (77 per cent) who had worked as a temporary agency worker are now in a permanent role. Intermediaries play a key role in facilitating flexible work – three in five people (62 per cent) who had secured temporary work through an agency were satisfied with the service provided. Meanwhile, the vast majority of employers (73 per cent) who find staff via a recruitment agency are satisfied or very satisfied with the service provided. 

Flexible work is a popular future career choice – one in three (32 per cent) people would consider flexible work in the future. Three in ten (30 per cent) of those who are currently in full-time permanent work would consider becoming a contractor or freelancer in the future. Government policy can help boost progression opportunities – the ability to learn new skills from diverse workplaces is an important driver of flexible work. The government can boost progression opportunities by broadening the apprenticeship levy.

Better management of flexible workers will boost productivity and employer brand – driving good practice in the management of a contingent workforce will further enhance the benefits of temporary working arrangements. More than half (56 per cent) of employers and recruiters have reviewed current procedures or are in the process of doing so.