Flexible Working Is For Lazy Employees Claim CEOs

Photo Credits - Chris Montgomery via Unsplash

Yet another CEO has shared their criticisms of flexible working. This follows a trend of views shared by well-known bosses and research conducted by KPMG. We examine why these CEOs are critical of employees working flexibly and explore if they’re right.

We also discuss an employee’s right to request such flexibility. If you believe your rights have been breached, contact Redmans Solicitors today. They can discuss your case and advise on how to proceed.

CEO’s Critical of Flexible Working

Blackstone Group’s CEO, Steve Schwarzman, recently discussed flexible working during the Future Investment Initiative summit in Saudi Arabia. He explained how he felt employees prefer to work from home so they don’t have to “work as hard”.

David Solomon, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, was also at the summit. He outlined that his firm has adopted a policy that gets remote staff to return to in-office working. This follows his previous criticisms, stating that remote working is an “aberration” that needs correcting “as soon as possible”.

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The attitude of these CEOs is nothing new, with some high-profile bosses previously going on record with a similar take. Elon Musk said that working remotely is “morally wrong”. Furthermore, Lord Alan Sugar stated that “there is no way people work as hard or productive as when they had to turn up at a work location”.

Worryingly for employees, the views of these CEOs are relatively widespread. A KPMG survey released earlier this year found that two-thirds of CEOs asked believe workers will return to the office full-time within the next three years.

Are Bosses Right to be Critical of Flexible Working?

Despite many CEOs believing that flexible working only benefits lazy individuals, research over the past few years has suggested otherwise. In May 2020, Hoxby, the social enterprise and B Corp, published research stating that 52% of bosses believed remote working improves productivity.

What’s more, in December last year, Transport Statistics Great Britain outlined that the average office commute is half an hour. Furthermore, Pebble, the flexible childcare provider, recently found that the shift to return to in-office working increased travel costs by up to £133. As such, remote staff could save time and fuel expenses by working from home.  

However, they aren’t the only costs remote workers could save. Pebble also found that this shift is increasing childcare costs for working parents by around £166 weekly.

Whilst on the topic of working parents, a recent YouGov poll found that 89% felt access to flexible working would positively impact their wellbeing. Moreover, these benefits extend to all employees, as the Royal Society for Public Health revealed. They explained that the majority, 45%, of respondents felt remote working was better for their wellbeing.

Therefore, although CEOs have been critical of employees working flexibly, plenty of benefits have been found. This working model has shown improved productivity, which contradicts some of the CEO’s sentiments. What’s more, flexible working provides employees more time to themselves, lower expenses and better well-being.

Can CEOs Force Employees Back to the Office?

With conflicting opinions and studies concerning flexible working, CEOs may wish to ignore employees’ wishes. That being said, they may garner unwanted legal attention if they push a return to in-office working incorrectly.

For starters, eligible employees have the right to request to work flexibly. Although employers are provided valid reasons to reject a request, unlawfully rejecting one could lead to an employment tribunal claim.

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Furthermore, if an employer simply rejects a request because it goes against their office-working policy, a discrimination claim could result. This may occur if the policy disadvantages someone with a ‘protected characteristic’ under the Equality Act 2010.

Additionally, an employee could bring a constructive unfair dismissal claim against their employer due to a breach of flexible working legislation. Therefore, although CEOs may want remote staff back in the office, eligible employees can continue working from home.

How to Make a Flexible Working Request

Since several CEOs are critical of working flexibly, employers may request employees to return to the office. However, should an employee want to work from home, they could make a flexible working request if eligible.

Currently, individuals can make such a request if they:

  • Have worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks
  • Are legally an employee
  • Haven’t made one in the previous 12-month period

Once a request is made, an employer must deal with it fairly, complying with the ACAS Code of Practice and respond within three months. Moreover, if a request relates to a disability, this could be considered a reasonable adjustment. In such circumstances, the employee would have more rights under the Equality Act 2010.

If you have questions about requesting to work flexibly or reasonable adjustments, contact Redmans Solicitors today. They are experts in employment law and could assist you in making such a request. Furthermore, if your rights have been breached, they could advise on your next possible steps.


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