Work/life balance : Work/life choices - A guide to flexible working in the transport industry

Work/life balance : Work/life choices - A guide to flexible working in the transport industry
Work/life balance : Work/life choices
A guide to flexible working in the transport industry

MAYOR OF LONDON               Transport for London
Work/life balance : Work/life choices - A guide to flexible working in the transport industry
Foreword										                                     4
Message from Valerie Todd, President WTS London				    5
Introduction										                                 6
What is flexible working?								                      6
Flexible locations									                            6
Flexible time										                                6
Legislation and guidance								                       8
What is the law?									                              8
Who can apply?									                                8
How should an application be made?						               8
Why do we need flexible working?							                8
The business case									                             10
It’s not just for mums								                         10
Staff retention increases								                      13
Productivity and employee satisfaction increases				   14
The environment benefits								                       14
The community benefits								                         15
Barriers to flexible working								                   16
What is good practice?								                         19
Our position										                                 20
Case studies from other industries						               22
Flexible hours in barristers’ chambers						           22
The UK’s largest virtual contact centre						          22
Further information									                           26
Footnotes										                                    27
Work/life balance : Work/life choices - A guide to flexible working in the transport industry
Foreword                                                             Message from Valerie Todd,
I am delighted to support the work of the Women’s Transportation     President WTS London
Seminar (WTS) London in publishing this practical and informative
                                                                     The Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) London was
guide on the issue of flexible working in the transport industry.
                                                                     established in 2005 to address the chronic under-representation
Organisations need staff who consider their work as more than        of women in transport. As well as working with schools and
‘just a job’, and who remain dedicated and motivated. Achieving      colleges to encourage newcomers into the industry, we provide
balance between home and work is therefore vital for the             training and networking opportunities to enable the progression
organisational development of businesses today. Evidence shows       and development of women’s careers in transport.
us that flexible and enlightened working practices are good
                                                                     At a time when skills shortages are proving to be a challenge for
for business.
                                                                     just about every employer in the sector, there is a need to ensure
Many organisations, including those within the transport industry,   that the industry is in the best possible position to retain its staff.
still believe that operational constraints make it impossible to     We also need to seek out ways of encouraging employees to
offer flexible working arrangements. This is a misconception, and    return after career, maternity or paternity breaks.
one that needs to change.
                                                                     Flexible working arrangements are an extremely effective solution
Practical advice and examples of good practice will help             to this dilemma. If implemented appropriately, they also have the
employers, employees, working parents and carers achieve flexible    potential to improve staff satisfaction levels, leading to better
working arrangements.                                                retention of employees and greater productivity.
This booklet is a welcome contribution to the agenda for change.     Without this flexibility, the transport industry runs the risk of
I hope that those who read this document will implement flexible     losing talented employees to other industries that are willing to
working in their own business and join other forward-looking         adapt their policies and organisational culture.
employers which are focusing on this important business issue.       This booklet adds to the body of information on flexible working
                                                                     practice. It provides practical guidance on how the transport
                                                                     industry can implement flexible arrangements for its staff and
Baroness Ros Scott of Needham Market                                 uncovers some of the myths and misconceptions around the
                                                                     implementation of work/life balance opportunities.

                                                                     Valerie Todd
                                                                     President, WTS London

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Work/life balance : Work/life choices - A guide to flexible working in the transport industry
Introduction                       What is flexible                   Flexible                         The following table explains the types of flexible practices available under flexible time and flexible
                                                                                                       location scenarios.
In January 2008, WTS London        working?                           locations                        Table 1: Flexible working practices
hosted the workshop ‘Work/
                                   The term flexible working can      Offering flexible working         Flexible arrangement                 Explanation
life balance, work/life choices’
                                   be applied to a number of          locations enables employees
with one of its sponsors,                                                                               Flexi-time                           Working within essential or core time periods with some flexibility in
                                   initiatives in the workplace.      to work while they are on the
PricewaterhouseCoopers. The                                                                                                                  how the hours outside of this time is worked.
                                   Organisations offer flexible       move, from home, from tele-
event brought together women
                                   working under both formal          centres or satellite offices.     Part-time                            Starting later and/or finishing early or working fewer number of days
from a range of companies
                                   and informal HR policies.          Advances in technology have                                            per week.
within the transport industry
                                   Arrangements are usually           allowed significant changes to
to discuss the benefits of                                                                              Term-time working                    Workers on a permanent contract can take paid or unpaid leave
                                   offered to all staff members       be made to the way colleagues
flexible working, the barriers                                                                                                               during school holidays.
                                   or, where business and             and clients communicate. The
to its implementation,
                                   operational requirements                                             Staggered hours                      Employees have different start, finish and break times, often used
and the business case for it.                                         option of working from home
                                   dictate, to a subset of staff.                                                                            as a way of covering longer operating hours.
The discussion was a                                                  has become possible due to
                                   There are two core types of        improvements in broadband         Annualised hours                     An employee’s working hours are calculated over the whole year and
productive one with the
                                   flexible working practices:        technology, mobile telephones                                          annual hours are then split into set and reserve shifts, which can be
groups working through
barriers to implementing           • Flexible locations               and access to computers.                                               worked as the need arises.
flexible working and identifying   • Flexible time                                                      Compressed working hours             An employee can work their agreed total hours over fewer working
possible solutions.                                                                                                                          days (for example a five-day week over four longer days).
                                   Many organisations
WTS London recognised there
was a need to distribute the
                                   also offer special leave           Flexible time                     Shift-working                        Similar to staggered hours, whereby employees generally work over
                                   entitlements to employees                                                                                 a 24-hour cycle.
results of this discussion to                                         Arrangements to allow
                                   to accommodate parental,           employees to work under           Job-sharing                          Two employees share the work normally completed by
all members, sponsors and          carer and other responsibilities
collaborators in the shape of                                         non-standard or flexible hours                                         one employee.
                                   that may require time off          can include: flexible hours
a guide to flexible working,       work. Businesses can also                                            Home or tele-centre-working Employees work from their home, tele-centre or satellite office.
highlighting its position on                                          or ‘flexi-time’ schemes; part-
                                   utilise varying contractual        time working; job-sharing;
the issue.                         arrangements to enable             compressed working weeks;        In a recent survey of 585 companies, conducted by the Chartered Institute for Personnel Development
Given the transport industry’s     their own flexible approach        annualised hours; and            (CIPD)1, respondents listed the following as the main types of flexible working practice offered by
wide portfolio and the range       to workplace organisation,         shift work.                      their organisations.
of jobs on offer, enabling         including the use of agency
                                   and/or temporary staff,                                             Table 2: Policies for flexible working
flexible working arrangements
in this environment will be        outsourcing and fixed                                                Flexible working arrangement                       Formal policy         Informal arrangements
no easy task. However, there       term contracts.
                                                                                                        Part-time working                                        41                        24
are some great examples of
best practice on hand and the                                                                           Term-time working                                        18                        22
purpose of this document is                                                                             Job-share                                                32                        23
to pull these together into
one useful guide that not only                                                                          Flexi-time                                               32                        19
looks at the business case                                                                              Compressed hours (eg four-day week)                      17                        23
for flexible working, but at
how it can be applied in the                                                                            Annual hours                                             14                        15
transport industry.                                                                                     Working from home on a regular basis                     19                        30
                                                                                                        Mobile working                                            9                        16
                                                                                                        Career breaks/sabbaticals                                26                        16
                                                                                                        Secondment to another organisation                       18                        18
                                                                                                        Time off for work in the community                       12                        17

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Work/life balance : Work/life choices - A guide to flexible working in the transport industry
Under the Employment Act 2003, an applicant making a request for flexible working must qualify
                                                                                                       under one of the following criteria:

                                                                                                       Table 3: Criteria for requesting flexible working

                                                                                                        The applicant must:                Relevant definitions
                                                                                                        Have a child under six or a        Parent: having parental responsibility for the child (includes
                                                                                                        disabled child under 18.           biological parents, legal guardians, adoptive and foster parents and
                                                                                                                                           spouses of these, including same sex partners as long as they have
                                                                                                                                           parental responsibility for the child).
                                                                                                        Be the carer for an adult as       Carer: an employee who is or expects to be caring for an adult who
                                                                                                        defined by the Department          is married to, or the partner or civil partner of the employee; or is a
                                                                                                        for Business, Enterprise and       relative of the employee; or falls into neither category but lives at
                                                                                                        Regulatory Reform (BERR).          the same address as the employee.
                                                                                                                                           Employees can apply to work flexibly to look after a ‘relative’. This
                                                                                                                                           definition covers parents, parent-in-law, adult child, adopted adult
                                                                                                                                           child, siblings (including those who are in-laws), uncles, aunts,
                                                                                                                                           grandparents or step-relatives.
                                                                                                        Have worked for their              Employee: The applicant making a request for flexible working must
                                                                                                        employer for 26 weeks              be an employee with a contract of employment – agency workers
                                                                                                        continuously at the date that      and members of the armed forces are not eligible.
                                                                                                        the application is made.           Whether an employee is eligible or not, many employers offer
                                                                                                                                           flexible working opportunities and the employee should still aim to
                                                                                                                                           find out what opportunities exist.

Legislation and guidance                                                                                Not have made another
                                                                                                        application to work flexibly
What is the law?                  should be objective and           to work full time without           under the right during the
                                  should establish whether          justification is indirect sex       past 12 months.
In 2003, the right to request
                                  the requested working             discrimination due to the larger
flexible working was
                                  arrangement can be                proportion of women who
introduced for parents of
                                  accommodated within the           have caring responsibilities.
young and disabled children.
                                  needs of the business.
In April 2007, this right was
extended to carers of certain     The legislation requires          Who can apply?
adults, including parents,        employers to hold a meeting       The Advisory, Conciliation and
parents-in-law, adult children,   with the applicant within         Arbitration Service (ACAS),
adopted adult children,           28 days of the application        which aims to improve
siblings (including those who     being made to discuss the         organisations and employees’
are in-laws), uncles, aunts,      application. The employee has     working life through better
grandparents or step-relatives.   a right of appeal against any     employment relations,
                                  refusal of their application.     provides comprehensive
Applications can cover hours
                                  The law can also mean that        guidelines on how to apply
of work, times of work and
                                  a refusal to consider flexible    for flexible working2. The
places of work.
                                  working can constitute indirect   full advisory leaflet can be
Under the Employment                                                found on the ACAS website
                                  sex discrimination. Women
Act 2002, employers have                                            ( – a
                                  have successfully argued
a legal duty to consider all                                        summary is outlined below.
                                  under the Sex Discrimination
applications for flexible
                                  Act 1975 that requiring them
working. Consideration

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Work/life balance : Work/life choices - A guide to flexible working in the transport industry
How should an                      Employees should be aware          make the decision relatively
application be made?               that if the employer approves      straightforward. A good
                                   their application, the variation   example of this is the issue of
ACAS provides the following        in contractual terms is a          childcare. Research suggests
compliance guidelines for          permanent one and the              that 45 per cent of women
any application for flexible       employee has no automatic          leave work due to a child-care
working. The application must:     right to change back to their      challenge – a significant pull
• Be made in writing, stating     previous pattern of work,          factor. For many, the option
   that it is being made under     unless the application seeks       of being able to return to
   the statutory right to apply    the variation for a specified      work in a more flexible way is
   for flexible working            time period only. A trial period   highly desired but quite often
                                   may be agreed.                     the workplace culture is just
• Confirm the employee’s
                                                                      not equipped to support this
   relationship to the child
                                                                      decision – the push3.
   or adult
                                   Why do we need                     The concept of work/life
• Set out the employee’s
                                   flexible working?                  balance is becoming more
   proposal and explain
                                                                      appreciated by employees
   what effect the employee        Losing staff is expensive
                                                                      and is here to stay. Whether
   thinks this will have on the    for any organisation. Most
                                                                      employees want a better
   employer’s business and how     businesses invest significant
                                                                      work/life balance to care
   this may be dealt with          amounts of money into new
                                                                      for children or parents, to
                                   recruits, training them to
• Specify a start date for the                                       study, or to better appreciate
                                   a certain level while losing
   proposed change giving the                                         life, employers who are
                                   money in the first few months
   employer reasonable time                                           not prepared to offer an
                                   due to lower productivity.
   to consider the proposal and                                       accommodating working
                                   So businesses should be
   implement it. This may take                                        environment are likely to
                                   asking the question – why do
   12–14 weeks                                                        lose their staff to employers
                                   people leave?
• State whether a previous                                           that are.                         The business case
                                   There are a myriad of factors
   application has been made                                                                            Despite the introduction              audience. Mothers may have             4 illustrates that there is still
                                   influencing a person’s
   and, if so, the date on which                                                                        of recent legislation giving          led the charge for flexible            a long way to go, with only
                                   decision to leave their work.
   it was made                                                                                          employees the right to request        working rights in recent years,        25 per cent of women and
                                   For women, pull and push
• Be dated                        factors often combine to                                             flexible working arrangements,        but it is beginning to be taken        15 per cent of men employed
                                                                                                        there are misconceptions that         up by a range of employees             in a flexible working
                                                                                                        flexible working is an issue of       who are seeking greater                arrangement of any kind. So
                                                                                                        gender. In fact, the benefits         balance in their working and           why should employers aim to
                                                                                                        are available to a much wider         personal lives. However, Table         improve on these statistics?

                                                                                                        Table 4: Flexible working patterns4

                                                                                                         Flexible working patterns:                        Women (%)        Men (%)
                                                                                                         Flexi-time                                            11               8
                                                                                                         Term-time working                                      8               1
                                                                                                         Annualised hours                                       4               4
                                                                                                         Job sharing                                            1               0
                                                                                                         Nine-day fortnight/four and a half-day week            0               0
                                                                                                         Zero hours                                             0               0
                                                                                                         None of these                                         75               85

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Work/life balance : Work/life choices - A guide to flexible working in the transport industry
It’s not just for mums
More and more research is        Increasingly, men are seeking      requests rejected by their
showing that the need for        flexible working arrangements      employer (14 per cent of men
flexible working is not only     from their employers.              compared to 10 per cent of
an issue affecting women         According to research from         women) and to have their
or, more specifically, women     YouGov and Microsoft on            cases turned down in the
with young children. At the      flexible working in small          employment tribunals (male
launch of the ‘Hidden Brain      businesses, men are more           claimants account for 27
Drain Research’ initiative at    aware of the benefits of           per cent of flexible working
the House of Commons in          flexible working. Almost seven     tribunal claims, but for 45 per
2005, Patricia Fili-Krushel,     out of 10 (68 per cent) of men     cent of cases that were lost,
Executive Vice President         believe that the nine-to-five      ruled out or dismissed)7. This
of Administration at Time        model of working is now out-       implies that the system still
Warner, likened those women      of-date compared to fewer          perceives flexible working to     Work/life balance in practice – Steve Newman, fire fighter and
who leave or languish as ‘the    than six out of 10 (58 per cent)   be something that mothers or      environmental team leader
canaries in the coal mine, the   of women6.                         women more generally should
first and most conspicuous                                          be entitled to. However, as the   For the past 10 years Steve Newman, environmental team leader for road schemes in Mouchel’s
                                 Although significant numbers                                         Brighton office, has served the community where he lives as a retained fire fighter for East
casualties of an out-dated,      of men are requesting flexible     following case study indicates,
dysfunctional career model’5.                                       men can benefit from flexible     Sussex Fire & Rescue Service.
                                 working, they experience
So if it is not only working     greater barriers to their          working just as women and         As part of the retained system, Steve receives the same training, qualifications and equipment as
mothers who need flexible        requests than women. Men           their employers can too.          his full-time colleagues. The only difference is that rather than being based at a fire station day
working, who else?               are more likely to have their                                        and night, retained fire fighters are issued with an ‘alerter’ or pager and are called out
                                                                                                      when required.
                                                                                                      Each fire fighter guarantees to give a certain number of hours of fire cover – for Steve that’s 80
                                                                                                      hours each week. This means that when he is on call at night and at weekends Steve has to be
                                                                                                      able to reach the fire station, get changed into his fire kit and be ready to mobilise within four
                                                                                                      minutes of being alerted.
                                                                                                      Steve explains: ‘Most of the time my fire-fighting doesn’t conflict with my work for Mouchel but
                                                                                                      there are times when I get called out at night or early in the morning and may be out for much of
                                                                                                      the day at an incident. Although East Sussex got away lightly in the recent floods, I did get called
                                                                                                      out one Friday morning and spent the next six-and-a-half hours pumping out water and rescuing
                                                                                                      people from flooded houses, which meant I didn’t make it into the office that day.
                                                                                                      ‘To allow for this flexibility I have negotiated a 30-hour contract with Mouchel. This means that
                                                                                                      if I have been out all night at a fire I don’t feel too much pressure to come into the office, tired,
                                                                                                      the next day.
                                                                                                      ’Mouchel also benefits from the skills and training I receive in the fire service. Earlier this year I
                                                                                                      was charged with reviewing health and safety policy and procedures for Mouchel’s planning and
                                                                                                      consultation, as I am a qualified risk assessor with the fire service. I also plan to provide some
                                                                                                      risk assessment training for my colleagues using what I have learnt through my fire service work,
                                                                                                      where health and safety is obviously a priority.’

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Work/life balance : Work/life choices - A guide to flexible working in the transport industry
Men are also indicating that
they would like to be working in
                                   to accommodate the work/
                                   life balance expectations of its
                                                                      A report, commissioned by the
                                                                      former Equal Opportunities
                                                                                                        Staff retention increases
less ‘extreme’ job conditiond.     younger employees in order to      Commission, ‘Older Workers        Although calculations vary,        employees. Less tangible costs      centred within the family (pull
Extreme conditions in this         simply retain its staff.           and Options for Flexible Work’    the CIPD estimate that staff       include the loss of knowledge       factors) or centred at work
instance involves long hours,      And what about workers who         states that older workers         turnover costs on average          and skill with the departure of     (push factors) and quite often
high stress and unpredictable      no longer have family and          would welcome more choice         £7,750 per employee, rising to     every staff member, for which       the two combine to make the
work expectations. Research in     caring commitments? Millions       about their working patterns      £11,000 for senior managers        a value is less easily estimated.   reason to leave much greater.
the United States shows that       of ‘baby boomers’ around the       in the run-up to retirement       and directors12. Turnover          This combination of costs           Both younger and older
while 57 per cent of women         world are now approaching          and the option to continue        costs include administrative       equates to substantial impact       workers are looking to
‘want out’ of these jobs, 48 per   retirement age and research        working in some form after        costs, such as resignation         on the business due to the          increase their opportunities
cent of men also want out8.        suggests these employees           State Pension age11. The          and recruitment costs, the         turnaround of staff.                to work flexibly and research
Looking beyond gender, it          are seeking greater fulfilment     report also states that the       cost of temporary cover to         Research undertaken in the          shows that loyalty to
is apparent that younger           and a better work/life balance:    balance of research suggests      fill vacancies, administrative     UK and the United States            employers depends heavily
workers are less likely to         ‘As they enter later life, baby    people would prefer to stay       time and costs associated with     indicates that women, and           on the business’ ability to
put up with these extreme          boomers are likely to be           with their existing employer,     the recruitment and selection      indeed all employees, leave         accommodate flexible working
working conditions. The same       deeply hostile to any attempt      if they could downscale their     process as well as induction       their employment for a variety      arrangements. The BT case
research in the US shows           to encourage them to work          commitment in terms of hours      and training costs for new         of reasons. The reasons can be      study illustrates this point.
that generation X workers          longer unless it works with        or working pattern. Given
(those born between 1964           the grain of their desire for      the Government’s recent
and 1980) and generation Y         flexibility in the way work is     announcement to increase
                                                                      the State Pension age, flexible      The BT business case
workers (those born in the         organised, in the level of
1980s) working in extreme jobs     time commitment involved,          work options have great              Since implementing its flexible working strategy, ‘Freedom to Work’, BT has seen staff turnover
are more likely to leave their     and in how it is structured to     potential to address individual      drop to three per cent per year (compared to a UK average of 22.6 per cent for the private sector
employers within two years (36     dovetail with other activities     concerns relating to                 and 13.7 per cent in the public sector). Ninety-nine per cent of women employees are returning
per cent) compared to workers      and responsibilities.’10           health and managing the              to work after maternity leave (compared to the UK average of 47 per cent), saving the company
in the 45-60 age-group (19 per                                        balance between work and             £5million per year.
                                   Research shows that older          family responsibilities.
cent) undertaking the same         workers (categorised as
roles9. This provides a strong     50 years and older) are
indication that the future of      more likely to seek flexible
the working model will need        working arrangements.

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Work/life balance : Work/life choices - A guide to flexible working in the transport industry
Productivity and employee satisfaction increases                                                         The community benefits
A recent study by the CIPD         These findings illustrate the      balance practices:                 The need for families to             the case for full-time workers      in reducing the gender time/
shows that people who work         fundamental need to ensure         • 81 per cent believed that       spend time together has              (73 per cent)16. According to       pay gap, by enabling more
flexibly are more emotionally-     employees are happy, not only         these had a positive effect     been a topic of widespread           the report, fathers of young        women to return to work after
engaged and more satisfied13.      in their work, but in the way         on employment relations         discussion recently. Children        children, supplementing the         maternity leave, and more
Evidence shows that these          in which they are able to carry                                       within the UK are spending           lost income of the mother,          men to work flexibly while the
people provide greater levels      out their work. Again, the BT      • 75 per cent stated that the     less time interacting with           often work the longest hours,       need is there to care for young
of enthusiasm and work             case study provides a good            workforce had become more       their parents and family and         which simply reinforces             children. The positive impact
more productively. Flexible        indication of just how big a          motivated and committed         there is a concern that this         the gender time/pay gap.            this has on the family unit is a
working is an important            difference a flexible working      • 60 per cent reported a better   has the potential to lead to         The Interim Report by the           benefit to the community
tool in improving staff            environment can make to               retention of staff              antisocial behaviour. The Work       former Equal Opportunities          as a whole.
satisfaction levels.               employee satisfaction and                                             Foundation and Employers for         Commission into the                 It would seem the business
                                   overall productivity.              Almost half of these               Work/Life Balance conducted          Transformation of Work found
The Sainsbury Centre for                                              employers also reported                                                                                     case for flexible working is
Mental Health produced a           More generally, the business                                          a survey in 2003, which found        that neither men nor women          straightforward. The question
                                                                      that work/life balance had         that more than two thirds of         are adequately supported to
paper on mental health in the      case for flexible working and      increased productivity,                                                                                     is why is it not more
workplace which highlighted        its positive impact on staff                                          respondents (69 per cent) want       successfully fulfil the dual        widely implemented?
                                                                      improved recruitment,              to spend more time with their        roles of working and caring17.
that ‘of the 70 million days       satisfaction was illustrated       reduced rates of absenteeism,
lost each year for mental          in the Department of Trade                                            families, and this is particularly   Flexible working can assist
                                                                      reduced overheads, improved
health reasons, about 10           and Industry’s Employers’          the customer experience
million are lost because           Survey for its second work/        and created a more
of anxiety, depression and         life balance study. The            motivated, satisfied and              Job-sharing in practice – Malcolm Murray-Clark and Michéle Dix,
stress which employees say         study shows that of the            equitable workforce15.                Managing Directors Planning, Transport for London
is directly caused by their        employers who have already
work or working conditions’14.     implemented work/life                                                    Malcolm and Michéle worked together as graduates for six years before pursuing individual
                                                                                                            careers. They subsequently had families and began to work part-time in their respective jobs,
                                                                                                            both undertaking roles at director-level. When the Director of Congestion Charging role was
                                                                                                            advertised as a full-time position within Transport for London (TfL), Michéle and Malcolm
   The BT business case cont…                                                                               submitted a job-share application for the role and were successfully appointed.
   Home-workers have proven that productivity does not have to suffer as a result of their working          Malcolm and Michéle continue their job-sharing working relationship today in their current
   arrangement. Productivity has steadily risen since 1998, by as much as 30 per cent in some               position of Managing Director Planning at TfL. The arrangement enables them to spend less
   years. Home-workers are also saving the company money – with £70m in office space and £10m               time at work and more time with their families and friends, while retaining the flexibility needed
   in transportation costs saved every year. Sick days have also fallen to an average of three days         to meet the demands of their job. The job-share arrangement means they have a colleague and
   per year compared to the UK average of 11.                                                               friend to share work-related ideas, problems and understanding, which means they find the job
                                                                                                            to be less stressful than it could otherwise be.
                                                                                                            As a result of this arrangement, TfL also benefits – having access to two employees instead of
The environment benefits                                                                                    one. Able to bounce ideas off of each other, Michéle and Malcolm can apply greater scrutiny to
                                                                                                            decision-making processes, and having two complementary skills sets means the organisation
Another benefit to add to          world. ICT is already making       work places, is diminishing.          benefits from their expertise across a broader range of issues. The overlap of one day facilitates
the business case for flexible     international meetings more        If more people worked from            effective handover and management. TfL gets longer working hours overall and Malcolm and
working involves an issue that     achievable, without the need       home, this would provide              Michéle get greater flexibility, giving them more energy and enthusiasm for their role and the
on the surface would seem          for travel. Improvements in        a significant environmental           ability to return to work recharged.
completely unrelated; the          video-conferencing, display        saving in terms of the cost
environment. Information           and computer technology            associated with transport. The
Communications Technology          requires employees to be           paper produced within office
(ICT) is having a major            present at meetings less and       spaces would also see
impact on the way business         less and the need for travel –     a reduction.
is conducted around the            both into work and between

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Work/life balance : Work/life choices - A guide to flexible working in the transport industry
Barriers to flexible working
Despite the options available,         At the ‘Work/life balance:           A number of these
the legislation being in               Work/life choices’ workshop          perceptions are explained in
place, and the business case           in January 2008, WTS London          the table below, and possible
becoming more apparent,                focus group discussions              solutions identified at the
some employees still seem              highlighted some key barriers        workshop are outlined.
to be reluctant to request             to the implementation of
flexible working arrangements          flexible working practices.
and in some cases, employers           The overwhelming theme was
are reluctant to offer it. This        the misunderstanding of
is largely due to people’s             flexible working practices
perception of flexible working         within the workplace.
and its history.

Table 5: Perceptions of flexible working

 Perception                            Reason                              Reality                             Perception                        Reason                               Reality
 That individuals working flexibly     This is due to the embedded         In reality, hours worked does       That people working part-time     Due to the historic lack of          Employers are beginning
 (particularly women) have to          culture of presentee-ism in         not necessarily equate to           are not ambitious.                part-time senior roles, part-        to realise that there is a
 work twice as hard to be half         the workplace. Workers feel         greater productivity. Employers                                       time workers often end up            cost-saving to be made by
 as good.                              reluctant to be the first to        should work with their staff to                                       undertaking roles requiring          introducing part-time roles,
                                       leave the office. Equally, there    develop performance measures                                          less experience and less             and this is becoming more
                                       is an understanding that the        that are realistic, rewarding and                                     responsibility, so perpetuating      apparent even at senior levels.
                                       last person to leave is the         that support flexible working                                         a stereotype of seemingly            Organisations such as Women
                                       person putting in the most          where possible. Burnt-out                                             un-ambitious workers.                Like Us, who deal primarily
                                       work. Those working flexibly        employees cost organisations                                                                               with encouraging women
                                       are often unfairly awarded the      money, time and loss of                                                                                    to re-enter the workforce
                                       reputation of not being a hard      knowledge so creative planning                                                                             after career breaks, are helping
                                       worker simply because they          is a must to ensure employees                                                                              to make part-time work
                                       are not visible in the office for   remain loyal and productive.                                                                               more widely available to
                                       long hours.                                                                                                                                    women of all levels of skills
                                                                                                                                                                                      and experience.
 That flexible working is a            As women have traditionally         Flexible working is increasingly
 woman’s issue only.                   been the primary carer in           becoming a genderless issue         That flexible working             This perception is all about         Engendering a cultural change
                                       families, it is women who have      as both women and men need          creates a ceiling to employees’   stigma. Due to all the negative      in an organisation is typically
                                       campaigned for flexible working     flexible working arrangements       career paths.                     perceptions outlined in              not an easy task. The same
                                       rights and women who more           to care for children and ageing                                       this table, flexible working         applies for changing people’s
                                       commonly apply for flexible         parents. Workers of all ages                                          arrangements are not an              attitudes around flexible
                                       working arrangements.               and gender are wanting greater                                        option worth considering for         working arrangements. What
                                       The perception is confirmed by      satisfaction and a better                                             some. Women in particular            can be done, alongside the
                                       the statistic that men are more     work/life balance. Having                                             are reluctant to utilise flexible    solutions identified above,
                                       likely to have their application    women and men in senior                                               working practices as they are        is better equipping both
                                       for flexible working turned         positions in an organisation                                          concerned that it will limit their   employees and employers with
                                       down by employers.                  working flexibly and leading                                          career path. Feedback from           the information necessary to
                                                                           by example, provides the best                                         some companies in the US has         make informed decisions about
                                                                           possible solution to changing                                         indicated that although flexible     their opportunity to either
                                                                           this perception.                                                      working practices are ostensibly     partake in or offer flexible
                                                                                                                                                 on the books, women would            working practices.
                                                                                                                                                 rather leave the organisation to
                                                                                                                                                 deal with external factors, than
                                                                                                                                                 apply for flexible working.

18 • Work/life balance                                                                                                                                                                             Work/life choices • 19
In the survey conducted by           • Senior-level support            moves into one that is less        A significant challenge to implementing flexible working identified by the survey respondents was the
the CIPD across the public,             and the prevailing              traditional, operational           capability of line managers in managing individuals who work flexibly. There are a number of support
private, voluntary and not-             organisational culture18        considerations are slowly being    mechanisms which can be implemented to address this issue, and some of these were referred to in the
for-profit sectors, respondents      The challenges identified in       tackled by organisations trying    survey19. They include:
identified three key                 the survey are not unlike          to implement flexible working
challenges to implementing           those identified in the focus      policies that go beyond the        Table 6: Support mechanisms for line managers
flexible working:                    group discussions.                 minimum requirements.
                                                                                                            Support mechanisms for                         Percentage of respondents who had implemented
• Operational pressures             The operational requirements       If the lessons learnt from          line managers                                                   this mechanism
• Concerns about line               of certain roles have              those organisations already
                                                                        reviewing their flexible working    Provision of coaching/feedback                                      86
   managers’ ability to manage       traditionally made flexible                                            from HR
   individuals working more          working options unachievable.      policies can be harnessed,
   flexibly and their attitudes to   However, as the expectations       then solutions for many of          Provision of information about                                      79
   flexible working                  of employees change and            the real and perceived barriers     legal requirements
                                     the culture of the workplace       identified above can be found.      Producing written advice/guidance                                   66
                                                                                                            Producing advice/guidance                                           41
                                                                                                            on intranet
What is good practice?                                                                                      Provision of training courses                                       14

Around the world, companies          •U
                                       ndertake marketing              taken or are being taken within
both large and small have             and publicise the                 their organisations to address
been introducing flexible             business benefits                 the concerns of employees
working practices. Some have         • Conduct peer mentoring          about requesting flexible
already reaped the benefits of          to support flexible work        working arrangements:
these programmes and learnt             programmes                      • Improve communication
significant lessons in                                                     of the flexible working
the process.                         • Educate HR teams and
                                        line managers on flexible          arrangements available
At the WTS London workshop              working practice                • Ensure training and
in January, members from                                                   development opportunities
across the transport industry        • Get senior level support and
                                        buy-in – lead by example           are available to those
identified key considerations                                              working flexibly
for businesses contemplating         • Have pragmatic discussions
or already actively encouraging         with employees about what is    • Include questions on flexible
flexible working arrangements.          possible and what isn’t            working in employee opinion/
Some examples of how                                                       staff attitude surveys
businesses can ensure                • Build in performance
                                        objectives to meet demands      • Highlight flexible working
good practice when it comes                                                opportunities in job
to introducing flexible              • Provide role models for when       advertisements
working include:                        it has worked well
                                                                        • Gear performance
• Revisit the job definition – it   • Share solutions with               management to focus
   does not always have to be           each other                         on individual outputs
   full-time                                                               (not presenteeism)
                                     From an employee perspective,
• Analyse the business needs        the stigma associated with         • Encourage managers to
   and find what works               requesting flexible working can       take up the flexible working
• Articulate the business           be a deterrent in itself. In the      options to act as role models
   benefits – use examples of        CIPD survey of HR managers,
                                     respondents identified a           • Focus job descriptions
   best practice                                                           on outputs
                                     number of steps that have been

20 • Work/life balance                                                                                                                                                                       Work/life choices • 21
Our position                                                                                            Case studies from other industries
WTS London sees flexible         2. A
                                     dvertise and                    4. Network with other people     Two case studies are              They wanted this project to         Results:
working as a valuable tool          acknowledge this as an                working flexibly to share     outlined below. Further case      ensure they were viewed as          Though participation is
in the development of               employment benefit                    experiences and learn from    studies can be seen at            a progressive and pioneering        optional, all staff have now
any organisation. It has         3. R
                                     e-focus your employees’             each other                      chamber and to be an                joined the scheme.
the capacity to improve             performance measures              5. Ask for advice – speak to                                       employer of choice for new
staff satisfaction, reduce                                                                              The Cloisters                     recruits. They also wanted to       What they say about it:
                                    as output-driven, not                 your HR team, colleagues                                                                            ’When we are busy, I can now
absenteeism and improve             hours-driven                          or your manager. Further      Case Study                        assist a shift in culture towards
productivity. In addition to                                                                                                              devolved responsibility and         stay beyond my normal hours
                                 4. S et up regular feedback             sources of information are    An optional scheme that                                               to make sure that everything
the legislative requirements                                              also listed at the end of                                       staff empowerment
pertaining to workers with          sessions to learn from                                              became an overwhelming                                                is completed and up-to-
                                    each other                            this booklet                  success among employees.          What?                               date, and I know that I will be
caring responsibilities, WTS
London believes that flexible                                         WTS London believes the                                             Standards and ground rules are      credited for this extra work.’
                                 5. R
                                     egularly review your policy                                       Who?
working practices have the                                            provision of flexible working                                       developed by the team. Staff
                                    and engage your business                                            Cloisters is a barristers’        must work their contractual         ’Going to the gym takes
potential to provide all            and operational groups            has an important place in the     chambers providing legal                                              longer than an hour, and the
workers with a healthier work/                                        transport industry. Working in                                      hours over any four-week
                                 6. G
                                     et senior-level buy-in                                            advice and representation.        period. This means they can         scheme allows me to take the
life balance and to ensure                                            the transport industry is by no                                                                         extra time needed to go at
that organisations across all    For employees wishing to             means a traditional profession,   Barristers’ chambers are a        carry over debit or credit
                                                                                                        collection of self-employed       balances of hours. A rota           lunchtime some days, knowing
industries retain the best       request flexible working, WTS        particularly for women, so                                                                              that colleagues on the rota are
people for the job.              London believes the following        why should the industry’s         people with an interest in the    designed by the clerking team
                                                                                                        reputation and success of their   is completed by everyone one        providing the necessary cover
                                 steps will help to make the          employment policies be                                                                                  at the office.’
WTS London is pleased                                                 conventional? By actively         chambers, but with individual     week in advance. This has
that all of its valued           process a little easier:
                                                                      promoting and pioneering new      specialisms and aspirations.      in-built flexibility: individuals   ‘I don’t have to run down
sponsor organisations have       1. F ind out what works and         initiatives in flexible working                                     may adjust their proposed           the road anymore when I’m
implemented some form                what doesn’t. If there                                             Cloisters has 40 barristers
                                                                      practice, the industry has the                                      times only in consultation with     10 minutes late because the
of flexible working policy.          are other people working                                           supported by 10.5 staff. The
                                                                      ability to send a powerful                                          colleagues and provided there       Tubes are bad. I just make the
What we need to ensure is            flexibly in your organisation,                                     project was aimed primarily at
                                                                      message to other employers                                          is adequate cover.                  time up.’
that these policies reach as         you may be able to learn                                           these staff.
                                                                      about the workability of work/                                      How did they do it?                 ’I feel healthier and
many staff as possible and           from these examples              life balance policies.            Why?
that support is provided to                                                                                                               Cloisters’ flexible hours           less stressed.’
                                 2. R
                                     ecognise the business                                             They were hoping to decrease
employees seeking flexible                                                                                                                scheme was developed in full        ‘It’s good to know that, in
                                    considerations and be                                               absenteeism and low staff
working and to those managing                                                                                                             consultation with the staff and     future, I’ll be able to attend
                                    prepared to negotiate with                                          morale and they were also
people who work flexibly.                                                                                                                 was tailored to meet Cloisters’     some of my children’s daytime
                                    your manager                                                        hoping to improve:
                                                                                                                                          business needs.                     school events, such as class
To make a flexible working                                                                              • Compliance with
                                 3. A
                                     sk to have regular                                                                                  The flexible hours scheme           assemblies and sports days.’
policy successful, WTS                                                                                     employment law and
                                    feedback sessions with your                                                                           provides for extra time
London believes the following                                                                              best practice
                                    manager – this will help                                                                              worked to be recorded
steps are essential:
                                    build confidence and trust                                          • Business improvements          and acknowledged through
1. Provide appropriate             between you                                                                                           accrual and this had led
    communications about                                                                                • Cloisters’ corporate
                                                                                                           reputation                     to an increased inclination
    your policy                                                                                                                           to respond to unplanned
                                                                                                        • Working hours                  business demands – in effect a
                                                                                                        • Improve time-keeping           return of some goodwill.
                                                                                                        • Telephone and reception
                                                                                                        • Training time

22 • Work/life balance                                                                                                                                                                    Work/life choices • 23
The Travel Call Centre             by Teamphone, which was able        Alistair Rowland, Managing
                         Case Study                         to configure its SmartNumber        Director at Future Travel.
                                                            services to match the precise       Peter Healey, Technical Director
                         ‘Home-shoring’ is on the           requirements and provide
                         increase due to technologies                                           of Future Travel: ‘We’ve
                                                            real-time statistics and queue-     reduced staff turnover by
                         improvements and can               management tools for fine-
                         improve staff management and                                           offering flexible home-working
                                                            tuning these requirements as        to, for example, new mothers
                         customer services.                 needed. Since the service works     returning to work part-time, or
                         Who?                               with existing telephones and        older people looking to reduce
                         The Co-Op Travel Group’s           requires no additional hardware     their hours but not yet ready to
                         Future Travel, a company           or network infrastructure it        retire. In the travel industry, an
                         handling incoming calls from       was possible to go live in a        effective home-working centre
                         customers booking new              matter of weeks, and at a very      means that you keep valuable
                         holidays and enquiring about       low cost per agent. It was          knowledge and experience
                         previously booked holidays.        important that the service          within the company. Being able
                         The project involved 630           worked on existing as well as       to add or reduce lines to fit
                         Association of British Travel      Voice over Internet Protocols       peak booking times, such as
                         Agents (ABTA)-certified agents.    (VoIP) and mobile networks          evenings and weekends, means
                                                            both for business flexibility and   that we can plan capacity.’
                         Why?                               business continuity reasons.
                         They were hoping to decrease                                           David Picking, IT General
                                                            In addition to full interactive     Manager at Co-Op Travel,
                         costs and be more competitive
                                                            voice response and automatic        said: ‘We have some unique
                         with labour costs abroad.
                                                            call distribution technology,       business models reflecting
                         They were also hoping to
                                                            the virtual contact centre also     both the quality of service
                         increase flexibility for workers
                                                            provides real-time and detailed     goals we provide to our
                         and worker retention. They also
                                                            statistics of all interactions      customers and also how we
                         wanted to improve customer
                                                            with customers.                     compensate our agents. It was
                         service by enhancing call
                         queue management.                  Call centre managers can            therefore critical that the call
                                                            see on real-time wallboards         distribution achieved both a
                                                            detailed information on the         high-quality experience for the
                         Co-Op Travel uses the              service level, the efficiency of    caller, as well as the optimum
                         SmartNumbers Virtual Contact       the agents and the lines and        distribution of calls to the most
                         Centre service. The staff          statistics on the customers.        appropriate agent.
                         is home-based and can be
                         managed at a distance. This        Results:                            ’These issues were
                         does not require any special       The project has seen the            compounded by the fact
                         equipment, hardware or             elimination of office-costs         that inbound calls have to be
                         software as it is embedded in      and associated administrative       managed not just across one or
                         the phone network.                 overheads, with the home-           two sites, but across more than
                                                            based contact centre operating      600 unique locations.’
                         How did they do it?
                                                            at around half the operating        ‘In many ways, this provides
                         Incoming calls are distributed     cost of a traditional site based    me with better information
                         by the Virtual Contact Centre      contact-centre.                     agent utilisation than I would
                         service to agents working
                                                            What they say about it:             normally get if all the agents
                         across the UK based upon
                                                            ‘Even though we have agents         were operating in the single
                         skills, agent availability,
                                                            operating across more than 600      location. Here we can configure
                         entitlement, and equal
                                                            separate locations across the       queues and teams based
                         distribution of calls.
                                                            UK, I can track in real time the    on hard facts – and not just
                         The solution was implemented                                           perception of performance.’
                                                            performance and effectiveness
                                                            of each our agents’, says

24 • Work/life balance                                                                                                               Work/life choices • 25
Further                           Legislation:                      For more information          Footnotes
                                                                    about WTS London              1 Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Flexible Working:
information                       • The Sex Discrimination
                                     (Question and Replies) Order
                                                                                                     Impact and implementation – An employer survey, 2005.
                                                                    Visit the website
The statutory right to request       1975 (SI 1975/2048)  
                                                                                                  2 ACAS guidance on flexible working and work-life balance:
flexible working:                                                                          
                                  • Employment Rights Act 1996     Email:   3 Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Off Ramps and On Ramps: Keeping talented women           (those provisions relating                                      on the road to success, 2007.
Also at             to maternity leave and
                                                                                                  4 Aston J, Clegg M, Diplock E, Ritchie H, Willison R, Interim Update of
                                     dependant carer leave)
ACAS guidance on flexible                                                                            Key Indicators of Women’s Position in Britain, 2004.
working and work/life balance:    • The Maternity and Parental                                   5 Hewlett, 2007.
                                     Leave Regulations 1999                (SI 1999/3312)                                               6 Brian Amble, in Management Issues: Women slower to adopt flexible
                                                                                                     working, August 2005
Case studies and examples of      • The Part-time Workers                                           research/women-slower-to-adopt-flexible-working.asp
flexible working in practice:        (Prevention of Less                                          7 Colette Fagan, Ariane Hegewisch and Jane Pillinger for the TUC,                Favourable Treatment)                                           Out Of Time: Why Britain needs a new approach to working-time
                                     Regulations 2000                                                flexibility, 2006.
Department for Children,
                                     (SI 2000/1551)                                               8 Hewlett, 2007.
Schools and Families,
explanation for introduction      • The Sex Discrimination                                       9 Ibid.
of flexible working legislation      Act 1975 (Amendment                                          10 Julia Huber and Paul Skidmore, The New Old: Why baby boomers
(speech by Lord Adonis               Regulations) 2003                                                won’t be pensioned off, 2003.
18 March 2008):                      (SI 2003/1657)                                               11 Wendy Loretto, Sarah Vickerstaff and Phil White, Older workers and          • The Employment Equality                                          options for flexible work, 2005.
                                     (Sex Discrimination)                                         12 Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Recruitment,
CIPD, Flexible Working survey:
                                     Regulations 2005                                                 retention and turnover, Annual survey report, 2007.
Impact and implementation.
                                     (SI 2005/2467)                                               13 Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, 2005.
                                  • The Occupational Pensions                                    14 The Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, Mental Health at Work:
                                     Schemes (Equal Treatment)                                        Developing the business case, 2007.
                                     (Amendment) Regulations                                      15 Clegg et al, 2004.
                                     2005 (SI2005/1923)
                                                                                                  16 Alexandra Jones and Stephen Bevan, Where’s Daddy?: The UK fathering
                                  • Equality Act 2006                                                deficit, 2003.
                                                                                                  17 Equal Opportunities Commission, Interim Report of the EOC’s
                                                                                                      investigation into the Transformation of Work, 2007.
                                                                                                  18 Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, 2005.
                                                                                                  19 Ibid.

26 • Work/life balance                                                                                                                                                       Work/life choices • 27
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