This chapter examines the definition of and the growing demand for flexible working. Flexible working is no longer a nice perk ring-fenced for higher-status workers, but a must-have many workers find essential. This is especially the case after the COVID-19 pandemic, which I will look into in greater detail in Chapter 10. In this chapter, I will focus mostly on the pre-pandemic developments of flexible working. The chapter also explores the extent to which governments have responded to the demand for more flexible working by examining some of the most recent legislative changes increasing workers’ right to work flexibly implemented across the world. Following this, some empirical data showing the trends in the provision and access to flexible working is provided using cross-national European data sets, accompanied by some data from other countries like the US. Based on this, what we see is that flexible working is growing when we look at developments in national legislation and company-level data. However, there is no clear evidence showing growth in workers’ access to flexible working when we examine data from the past couple of decades before the COVID-19 pandemic.
But before we go on, what exactly is flexible working? Flexible working can entail employees’ control over when, where and how much they work (Kelly et al, 2014; Chung and van der Lippe, 2020). There are different arrangements relating to employees’ control over when they work. Flexitime enables workers to alternate the starting and ending times of work.
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