Barriers to flexible working

Busting some flexible working myths.

All the time we hear people say flexible working won’t work for our business. Common barriers are:

The floodgates rarely open, flexible workers are proven to give more and although one size doesn’t fit all but we see flexible working in well in all sorts of organisations.

Let us show you how we can support you to reap all the benefits of flexible working and help you business perform better.

Common barriers to flexible working

Could there be barriers to flexible working in your organisation?

If barriers exist, where could you start in terms of finding solutions?

  • Does stigma exit and people are perceived as less committed if they work fewer than full time hours?
  • Are there perceived barriers to career progression for flexible workers?
  • Is there a culture of presenteeism - either across the organisation or in certain pockets?
  • Could there be a lack of trust in the organisation?
  • Do some managers need to 'see' people to know they are working?
  • Is there clear and proactive communication encouraging flexible working in the organisation?
  • Is there enough visibility of flexibile working in practice at all levels of the organisation?
  • Could flexibility be perceived as something only for more senior roles with junior colleagues hesitant to ask about working differently
  • Ensure organisational understanding of the benefits of flexibility
  • Gain endorsement right at the top
  • Enlist Senior Leader Champions
  • Provide line Manager support to help them understand and support flexible working
  • Create an informal framework for working flexibly as well as formal policies (if desired)
  • Use case studies to showcase flexible working
  • Proactively use role modelling and ensure visibility of flexible working in action at all levels / roles
  • Encourage all colleagues to use their email signatures to show their working patterns
  • Consult with colleagues to find what it feels like 'on the 'ground', to help establish what they want and ‘what good looks like’
  • Communicate, communicate!
  • Does everyone have the technology they need (and know how to use it) to make a success of flexible working?
  • Do people in the organisation fear they could be forgotten about if not in full time/not in the office?
  • Invest in the right 'kit'
  • Develop a smart working policy
  • Provide support and training for home workers
  • Schedule key meetings and socials at times everyone available
  • Are jobs 'too big' for the hours?
  • Do you know what flexibility is possible for different roles in the organisation?
  • Do your team structures lend themselves to flexibility
  • Could there be a worry about lack of parity across departments?
  • Do you recruit flexibly?
  • Is flexible working seen as having cost to the business?
  • Re-shape roles to make them more realistic for the job in hand
  • Look at each role individually.
  • Support a ‘multi-skilled’ approach to roles so one person can do various tasks
  • Look seriously at part time/ job share roles which could offer greater productivity
  • Use trial periods for new working patterns
  • Test out flexible recruitment
  • Manage clients’ expectations about response times and be clear about alternative contacts
  • Are managers skilled in having open conversations about flexible working?
  • Does everyone feel comfortable 'asking' for flexible working?
  • Could any of your managers have a closed mindset?



  • Encourage and support more ‘human’ conversations in teams
  • Encourage weekly check ins
  • Provide line manager support, coaching or trainin
  • Is it believed that it is not possible to do flexible working in non office roles?
  • Re-visit current shift patterns, etc in teams and talk to colleagues about their needs.
  • Give employees autonomy for team/self scheduling
  • Think about the operating model and hours and consider if more people be recruited to cover a longer operational period (which may be attractive to a greater number of people)