The future of the workplace is shaping up to be one that embraces flexible work arrangements, ushering in a new normal that is not expected to go anywhere.
Although this shift has its own benefits, a lesser drawback from this new way of working is the underlying discrimination and inequality that could take place.
In 2014, the UK allowed employees with over six months of service to have the legal obligation to request flexible working hours from their company. However, research from Laura Jones of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London found that an “implementation gap” revealed that women who received these benefits were seen as less ambitious than their colleagues.
“We found evidence […] of the marginalisation of part-time and flexible workers – a phenomenon produced by a mismatch between these ways of working and organisational cultures which equate commitment with the ability to work long hours; and which assume that those who make use of these schemes do not want to develop their careers,” Jones wrote.
Even more, lower paid workers that are considered nonessential are often the ones who need flexibility the most in order to take care of dependents while earning a living, but are less likely to receive the opportunity.
Flexible working does hold value and can be utilized to create more opportunity, but policies must be built in a way that ensures all workers are treated equally.