Working Forward, working with CIPD: image of working mother holding her baby Working Forward, working with CIPD: image of working mother holding her baby

Flexible working: how to create and champion a flexible culture

Flexible working options are attractive to many employees and can significantly benefit both employers and employees. However, not every employer knows how to consider requests, how to advertise roles as flexible or to get management support to implement this.

Working Forward is the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s national campaign to make workplaces the best they can be for pregnant women and new mothers. A critical pledge in this campaign is to work with businesses and organisations to encourage employers to offer flexible working practices.

What is flexible working?

Flexible working describes a type of working arrangement which gives some degree of flexibility on how long, where, when and at what times employees work. The flexibility can be in terms of working time (for example, part-time, flexitime), working location (such as working from home) or the pattern of working (for example, job share). To view more about the types of flexible working practices see the resources from CIPD.

Why are we encouraging employers to offer flexible working practices?

Our research found that over two thirds of mothers (68%) made a request for at least one type of flexible working practice, with most being approved. However, over a third of the women who had their requests approved didn’t request the flexibility they wanted because they thought it would be viewed negatively or wouldn’t be approved, while over half said it led to negative consequences.

To make businesses the best they can be for pregnant women and new mothers, we’re encouraging more employers to be open and transparent about their flexible working options and to promote these during recruitment.


Myths about flexible working may prevent employers from integrating flexible working options into their workplaces.

Read our myth busters: challenging negative ideas about flexible working (PDF).

How does flexible working succeed?

Watch Royal Mail’s staff talking about how introducing flexible working options is changing the culture of the business and helping them to grow.

Employers with flexible working cultures

Nationwide and Mitie showcase their examples of how they’ve incorporated flexible working practices into their organisational culture.

Top tips for offering flexible working

  • where appropriate, advertise jobs as open to flexible working and promote a wide range of flexible working practices
  • trial new ways of working
  • be transparent and clear about the types of flexible working the organisation has considered, offered and granted
  • celebrate and showcase examples where flexible working is successful

We’ll be adding more information on flexible working soon, such as recruitment practices that highlight flexible working options.

The business case for flexible working

Flexible working: a win-win for employee and employer.

The benefits for businesses:

- Deliver a more flexible service to customers

- Increase employee engagement

- Attract people from a more diverse talent pool

The benefits for employees:

- Better work/life balance

- Feel under less pressure

- More likely to stay with their employer

The demand for flexible working options will continue to grow.

- People are living and working longer

- More people are balancing work with caring responsibilities

- Career expectations are changing

According to the Women’s Business Council, while the majority of mothers work, many face barriers and find it difficult to balance their work and care needs, especially those on lower incomes.

It’s widely recognised that a key component in the progression and retention of women in work – and indeed everyone – is the provision of flexible working.

76% of employers report that flexible working improves staff retention and 73% say it improves staff motivation

Additional resources

CIPD research

Further information

Last updated: 30 May 2018