More businesses across the South East have embraced flexible working in the past decade, according to a study from a Sussex recruitment company.

Ten2Two Sussex found 91% of employers feel the business community is more positive towards flexible workers than it was ten years ago.

However, almost 80% of the nearly 2,500 comments collected as part of the study were negative about how the working arrangement is perceived by employers.

Flexible working allows employees to choose their own working hours, or to work from home.

It can allow someone to fit work around other responsibilities, such as childcare.

Emma Cleary, director of Ten2Two Sussex, said there was still a long way to go to ensuring businesses are supporting flexible workers.

She said:

“There’s £1.6 billion worth of talent sitting at home, because they can’t make business sense of the work-life balance.

“They’d love to be back at work, but childcare costs are too prohibitive, or they just can’t find a job that will allow them to pick up or drop off kids at the end of the school day.”

She also mentioned smaller micro-businesses in Sussex have been quick to offer workers more choice with their hours:

“A lot of our candidates have moved out of bigger-city jobs to have a better quality of life in Brighton, Hastings, along the south coast.

“They’ve obviously got all the skills and talents they’ve worked really hard to get, but they’re just hoping to find a job in rural life that will fit in with their skills.

“Often that means that they’re prepared to take a hit on the amount of money they can earn, so long as they can have a more flexible option.”

The report found 65% of businesses surveyed in London and the South East had recruited flexible workers, and more than 83% agreed it had benefitted them.

Just 11% of employees, though, believe there has been a clear positive improvement in businesses’ attitudes towards flexible working.

That compares with 29% of employers surveyed.

Emma Cleary said:

“Workers are still coming up against age-old restraints of job descriptions and application forms not offering a flexible option, so there’s still work to be done.”

More details about the survey can be found at the Ten2Two website.

Advice on what flexible working is and how to apply for it can be found at Citizens Advice.