The types of flexibility people experience vary depending on the industry they work in and what job they have
Flexibility at work comes in different forms, and can include being able to vary the hours, days, and location of work.
Even though most Kiwis experience fairly flexible work arrangements, the types of flexibility people experience at work vary, “depending on the industry they work in and what job they have”, according to Scott Ussher, labour market statistics manager, Stats NZ.
Indeed, new research from Stats NZ has found more than 50% of employees in New Zealand have flexible work hours, allowing them to start and finish work at different times each day, and one-third have worked from home.
The Survey of working life, conducted between October and December 2018, asked employed people about their work arrangements, employment conditions, and satisfaction with their job and work-life balance.
While the survey provides an employee perspective of flexible work, the 2018 business operations survey, looked at flexible working arrangements from an employers’ perspective.
The research found that flexible start and finish times were one of the most common forms of flexible arrangements offered by businesses.
Although half of employees have flexible work hours, more men (54%) than women (49%) have flexible hours. Parents of dependent children are more likely to have flexible hours (57%) than non-parents (49%).
The proportion of employees who have flexible work hours varies considerably by industry, ranging from over 7 in 10 employees in rental, hiring, and real estate services, to under 4 in 10 employees in healthcare and social assistance.
“It’s not surprising that industries like healthcare and social assistance, and education and training have lower rates of employees working flexible hours, as these industries include professions, such as doctors, nurses, and teachers, where fixed working hours are largely unavoidable,” said Ussher.
There is also variation by occupation, with employees working as managers having the highest proportion of flexible work hours (67%), compared with community and personal service workers, where only 37% are on flexible hours.
Male and female employees were equally likely to have worked from home, with 43% of men having done so, compared with 42% of women.
The age group where employees were most likely to have ever done some work from home was 35–39 years (47%), compared with employees aged 15–19 years where working from home was uncommon (6.4%).
Moreover, parents of dependent children were considerably more likely to have ever worked from home (44%), compared with non-parents (29%).
The proportion of employees who have been able to do some work from home in their main job varied substantially by industry, ranging from nearly 7 in 10 people in education and training, down to just over 1 in 10 people in retail trade and accommodation and food services.
There was also some variation by occupation. It was most common for professionals (58%) to have done some work from home, followed closely by managers (57%).
The occupation where it was least likely to have done some work from home was for machinery operators and drivers (6.0%), followed closely by labourers (6.5%).
Working from home did not always correlate with an increased satisfaction with work-life balance.
While most employees who had done work from home were satisfied with their work-life balance (69%), they were more likely to be dissatisfied, or very dissatisfied (12%), than those who did not work from home (6.9%).
“For some people, working from home can be useful to help juggle their professional and personal life, but for others, it might intrude on their personal life and cause dissatisfaction with work-life balance,” said Ussher.