Flexible working in Property & Construction | Findings from the 2017 Vertical Salary Review

Our annual salary survey explores employee satisfaction levels, salaries and benefits across the North West property & construction industry. This years’ survey suggests a preference for financial remuneration, however, lifestyle and well-being benefits continue to be important for employees.

29% of respondents say that achieving a better work-life balance would lead them to search for a new job, ranking 3rd behind only increased salary and career progression.

This was unsurprising as our candidates often highlight their ambition to achieve work life balance when securing a new job, with a reluctance to undertake long commutes and flexible working requests becoming increasingly common.

In response, we are seeing more employers offer flexible work patterns and opportunities to work from home, however, the property & construction industry feels a long way from being truly flexible.

Interestingly, the property industry is itself responsible for delivering flexible spaces to accommodate new ways of working. Most, if not all, commercial spaces now offer co-working space, open plan accommodation and remote working infrastructure but are we practising what we preach?

40% of survey respondents cite flexible working as one of the most important benefits yet only 32% are offered flexible working, which suggests room for improvement. Flexible working comes in various forms and can be defined as a way of working that suits an employee’s needs, such as flexible start and finish times, or working from home(1). It’s often presumed that flexible working is predominately a solution to childcare and is most likely to be requested by women, which may explain why it is less common in a male dominated industry. However, a report (2) by flexible working consultancy Timewise, earlier this year, highlighted some interesting findings.

The survey found that 84% of men and 91% of women either currently work flexibly, or want to. Only 28% and 29%, respectively, cited childcare as the motivator, with convenience, work-life balance, less commuting and time to pursue leisure time or study more likely to be the reason for people wanting to work flexibly. The preference to work flexibly peaks within the 18-34 year old bracket, with 92% wanting to work flexibly compared to just 72% of those aged 55+.

One company investing in their flexible working strategy is Manchester based, Walker Sime. Associate Director, Caroline Bacon said “We recognised some years ago that flexible working was attractive to our staff and have had a formal flexible working policy in place for 3 years now. As long as their contracted hours are fulfilled, our staff can choose what time they start and finish work within an agreed period, between 7.30am and 6.00 pm. Approximately 70% of staff regularly take advantage of this, for various reasons, including working around gym sessions or other leisure activities, accommodating childcare; or to avoid peak traffic. This has had a significant impact on health and well being, productivity and sickness/absence levels. Our staff don’t feel under pressure to squeeze their personal life in around work, they have the time to pursue other activities that contribute to their well-being; and they don’t arrive in work frazzled after a two hour commute. Interestingly, 85% of our workforce is male which contradicts the common assumption that only women want to work flexibly.”

As awareness and conversation around workforce wellbeing increases we expect flexible working to eventually become a deal breaker for candidates, and encourage our clients to explore flexible working options for all staff.

Read the full salary review, produced in association with Place North West, here

1. https://www.gov.uk/flexible-working
2. https://timewise.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Flexible_working_Talent_-Imperative.pdf