The British workplace is likely to change significantly in the next five years as more people abandon a nine-to-five day in favour of flexible working.
New research by 9-2-3 Jobs has found that 73% of office workers believe that working flexibly will be the norm within five years. The survey also found that flexibility is the third most important influencer on career and job choices after pay and location.
There's a significant gender difference in attitudes towards flexible hours, with almost one in three women citing flexibility as a key influencer compared to one in five men.
However, the research also showed that one in five women think that working flexibly has a negative effect; and 25% of 35-44 year-olds say flexible working could damage their career prospects.
"This negative connotation of flexible working needs to be reversed and a greater uptake of flexible arrangements need to be created across British businesses," said Helen Wright, founder of 9-2-3. "Working with both employers and employees, we've identified that flexible work is crucial to the wellbeing of employees in the workforce, but also to the productivity of organisations - but as a society we're not doing enough about this."
Wright is calling for a national flexible working day in 2018 as part of a campaign to make flexible working mainstream. "I would like to see all vacancies being advertised with some flexible arrangements," she added. "I am also calling on all candidates to ask about flexible working practices in their next interview - not a demand, just a question."
Victoria Prentis MP has given her support to the campaign. "I know that the Government is keen to encourage flexible work days and programmes aimed at returners. £5m in funding has been earmarked to help people - in particular mothers - back to work. We are making good progress in the right direction."
Wright has launched the 9-2-3 Club, giving candidates the opportunity to get together, share experiences and gain in confidence before re-entering the workplace. It is aimed at anyone that has taken a career break; companies of all sizes are also invited to take part.