Flexible and remote working are terms which have all become part of our everyday vernacular since we went into lockdown in March 2020. Is flexible working the same as remote working? Let us find out! These words weren’t created during the pandemic, but they have become commonplace and are relevant to so many more workplace situations and relate to many more of us now.


Demand for flexible working is rising, 8.7 million full-time workers say they want to work flexibly. There are 400,000 people who can’t work unless they can find a part-time or flexible role.

Source: equalityhumanrights.com

What is flexible and remote working? – meaning and difference

Here is the meaning and difference between flexible and remote working arrangements:

Flexible working meaning

Flexible working means that your role can be carried out

  • In an office
  • At home
  • At a shared collaborative working space
  • On site, ie factory/laboratory

Your working week is spent at any of the above locations, this could be on a flexible basis as agreed each week, or a fixed pattern to meet up with your team and clients.

You may work compressed hours

  • a full working week over four longer days
  • part time hours over two, three or four days

You may start and finish earlier or later in the day. The giveaway is in the name – flexible. The hours and days you work, are agreed with your manager and to fit in with the rest of your team. Each company and department set their flexible working policy to suit the team and company.

Remote working meaning

Remote working means that you spend working whilst out of the office

  • at home
  • in a shared working space
  • a café
  • on site
  • a library (there’s usually free wifi!)

Once again it is agreed with your team and manager, you will work the same number of hours, just away from the office.

With online shared file systems now so easily available, eg Gmail, iCloud, Dropbox, Slack etc. Collaborating and sharing documents ensures that flexible working is accessible to all team members, it’s as easy as sharing a file link.

However, there are still beneficial and positive reasons for teams to meet up on a regular basis. Many companies who are a Remote First organisation don’t have an office and meet regularly to brainstorm, collaborate, team build and have ‘human contact’.

Weighing up the pros and cons of flexible working

If you are considering a new role, you will need to weigh up the options and know the advantages and disadvantages of flexible working to see if it is for you

Costs of working from homeCosts of working from home:
– Increased heating and electricity costs
– Increased wear and tear on home furnishings
Reduced costs of travelling to work
Does your home life suit you working from home?Could you do the school run?
Could you share the childcare?
Do you have children? Are they pre-school age and would they be at home whilst you’re working?
What are your options during school holidays?
Does your Partner work from homeIs there enough space for you both to work at home
Is your employer offering IT supportContribution towards broadband
Provision of laptop
Desk and seatingIs your chair and desk suitable for sitting at all day
Is your employer ‘tech savvy’– Is the company using online document sharing software
– Do you use a shared project management software so the team can collaborate
– Does the company use a VOIP telephone system you can access via your mobile telephone
Is there an alternative to home working if you can’t work from home
Do you have the space to work at home – you don’t want to be squashed in your bedroom between the bed and the wardrobe on a dining chair
Are you a social person – do you like the office buzz and banter and the morning chat in the kitchen. Do you like to work Friday night drinks?

There are many more questions you will need to answer before deciding whether flexible or remote working suits you. If you are looking to create a better work/life balance and the new role fits that mould, jump at the chance.

Flexible and remote working have been options for a while, their acceptance as mainstream was accelerated by the pandemic, but they are here to stay and many people are now benefitting from a more flexible life.

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