Using Flexible Working to Support Carers

Aug 20, 2021

We have always promoted flexible styles of work as something that could really benefit members of staff with caring responsibilities but until the pandemic, many employers were hesitant to utilise flexible working in their own organisations, citing that it would be too difficult or complex to put in place. All this changed when the pandemic hit in 2020 and many employers scrambled to set up home working since staff were no longer allowed to attend their offices.

In many ways the adaptation of home working could be seen as a positive that has come out of the pandemic and many organisations are planning to continue some level of working from home, even when we are allowed to return to the office full time.

Many carers would benefit from being able to work more flexibly, particularly if they regularly need to attend appointments with the person they care for. Although hybrid and home working can be seen as a flexible type of working, some workers may still feel constrained.

Rigid working hours can be an issue when working around appointments. Some organisations have found a solution by only scheduling work meetings within a core time period in the middle of the day (for instance between 10am and 3pm) which allows extra flexibility for staff to adjust start and finish times or make up hours outwith normal working day.

Another problem is the assumption that everyone would prefer to work from home, when in actuality many carers enjoy their working life as time away from caring responsibilities. People like the social aspect of their work and specifically being able to chat with colleagues, who may also provide them with peer support.

Of course, not all solutions will be suitable for every carer or every organisation. Overall, we discourage employers from using ‘one size fits all’ solutions and instead advise speaking directly to the people involved to try to come up with a suitable arrangement on a case by case basis.