Would Nick Clegg’s new proposals on flexible working be practical for a career in the City?

Lynn Rattigan

It’s not a divine right for parents to work flexibly. But flexible working should be an option afforded to everyone. And let’s be clear – reduced hours need not mean reduced commitment. All flexible working arrangements must start with a business conversation that balances the needs of the business, clients and teams with personal desires. This is the key to getting it right for employer and employee. The business case for change is also compelling. Flexible working attracts and retains the best and brightest. Emppployees, clients and customers all demand it, and it can lead to competitive advantages. The City is no stranger to the benefits of flexible working and championed its success during the Olympics. I know that there are many more of you out there who, like me, already work flexibly. It’s the future for British business.

Lynn Rattigan is deputy chief operating officer at Ernst & Young. She works flexibly.

Thomas de Freitas

As a concept, flexible working is no more than a quick fix to create better work life balance, both inside and outside the City. Yet the idea is misconceived. I’m not talking about maternity or paternity leave, or part-time work on a case-by-case basis. Rather, if it becomes normal for half a workforce to be absent, the remaining half will be forced to pick up the slack, doubling their workload simply to keep the machine running. Flexibility for some breeds inflexibility for others. Further, absent employees are often kept out the loop. Research by King’s College London shows that 50 per cent of flexi-time female solicitors believe that they are not seen to be serious about their careers. My worry is that a fully flexible workforce will leave the majority feeling less satisfied in their careers and more insecure in their jobs.

Thomas de Freitas is managing director of Communicate Recruitment Solutions.