By flexible working, we mean all working arrangements that deviate from the traditional '9 to 5', for five days in the office. This may involve part-time working, remote working, remote working for several days a week, working different hours, or other arrangements.

Covid-19 kicked the traditional 9 to 5 into touch for most employers, and willingly or not, they were compelled to implement flexible working, including remote working, for those who could get their work done from home. And it seems that all this will continue for the foreseeable future. In our survey of clients for 2021, we found that a staggering 93% of organisations with 5,000+ employees said they didn't expect their workforce to go back to the office full-time in that year.1

Remote working benefits employees by reducing the stress of commuting and helps ensure employees experience satisfying working lives. It has become an essential tool for attracting talent, but it is also a win-win, as remote working benefits employers in terms of productivity.
Stefano de Luca Tamajo
Pay & Benefits - Restructuring & Labour Relations

It's also what many employees seem to be demanding for the future.According to a survey by GoodHire, 45% of employees said they would even quit their job or start searching for a new one if they were forced to return to office premises full-time, and 74% of employees said that they would require some sort of remote working if they were going to continue working for their firm.2 And it looks likely that these figures will hold true for 2022 as well and likely beyond Covid.Hybrid working, where employees mix office and remote working, is here to stay.

But what benefits and challenges can companies and employees expect from this new flexible normal?

The Main Pros of Flexible Working:

  • Good productivity levels: Our survey has shown that 49% of businesses find it challenging to monitor and manage employees' performance remotely,3 but that may not be as worrying as some employers thought in the past. Some studies have shown that although there are some differences between the perceptions of employees and managers, most think productivity levels have actually not altered much, despite the change of location.4 There may be legal reasons in some countries requiring employers to monitor working time, but in terms of concerns about productivity, those have largely not materialised in the way some had feared.
  • Attraction of talent: Given what we know about employees wanting the option to work flexibly, it seems likely that businesses that offer flexible working as part of their recruitment benefits will have an advantage over competitors who don't.
  • Less commuting means less stress: Going to the office less means less commuting – and that also means less stress for employees (as commuting is a known stressor), and more personal time for employees as they save time they used to spend commuting.
  • Employee satisfaction: with flexible work options and changing working hours, it should be easier for employees to balance their private and professional lives. They may find it easier to manage childcare and other caring responsibilities – and may even find the time to pick up on those yoga lessons that they had been meaning to do for ages.

The Main Cons of Flexible Working:

  • Difficulty in building/maintaining the company culture: With everyone in their private zone, there are fewer opportunities for networking, collaboration with colleagues, and knowledge sharing5, which also means that it can harder to build or maintain the company culture. Sam Everatt, Executive Directive of Ius Laboris, says that one way to deal with this is to have regular online team meetings and virtual coffee times, where team members can share and connect in a way that keeps the team engaged and mitigates any feelings of isolation.
  • Employees' mental health: One of the biggest concerns of HR leaders is the effect of remote working on employees' mental health, especially if they work remotely full time. Moreover, the fact that work and private life coexist very closely for remote workers, they may find it harder to disconnect from work at the end of the working day. In some ways, never really leave their workspace, which may have adverse consequences for mental health. We look at this in more detail below.
  • Increased risk of confidential information leaks: Research indicates that remote working increases the risk of data breaches and this underlines the importance of security measures tailored to remote working. According to IBM, the cost of data breaches involving remote work was on average USD 1.07 million higher and it also took more time to identify and contain them.6 We look at this subject in detail below.
  • Legal complications: Remote working introduces some potential legal complications. For example, if an employee wants to work from home abroad – as people increasingly say they do, local employment law protection may be triggered, and this may mean an increase in benefits for the employee and cost and complexity for the employer. There could also be complications relating to the employee's tax status – as host countries typically have first tax rights over employment income earned while physically working in that country. It can also be complicated to dismiss an employee based abroad. Robust legal advice is key here. For readers who are interested to know more, see out detailed guide here.


1. Ius Laboris, The Word- Forces For Change, 2021

2. GoodHire, Sara Korolevich, 27.10.21,

3. Ius Laboris, The Word- Forces For Change, 2021,

4. Australian Government Productivity Commission, Working From Home, 2021,

5. Australian Government Productivity Commission, Working From Home, 2021,

6. IBM, How much does a data breach cost?,

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.