Nearly one fifth (17.4 percent) went as far as saying that they felt flexible working had a negative effect on their career progression, with several respondents believing that employers saw them as less committed to their job because they were not in the office for the standard working day. In addition, 22.6 percent had considered going back to work on a non-flexible basis because of the constraints imposed on them by this way of working.
When looking for a new job, IT professionals considered flexible working the second most important criteria after salary. When asked to rank the individual factors they believed to be ‘Very important’, 64.1 percent of respondents said salary, 57.4 percent stated flexible working, 50.3 percent chose location and 41.7 percent selected career progression.1
Of the 38.9 percent of respondents that did not work flexible hours, over four fifths (81.5 percent) were not offered the option by their employer, despite 90.2 percent saying they would like the choice to do so. 65.4 percent felt their work life balance suffered through non-flexible working conditions.
Alex Farrell, managing director at www.theitjobboard.co.uk comments: “With the current skills shortage in the technology industry, employers need to act now to encourage and retain talent in their IT departments. The option to work flexible hours is clearly high on the agenda for IT professionals. It is is worrying therefore to see that many organisations do not offer it, and that many of those that do are not perceived to be getting it right.”
The European Commission calculates that by 2010 there will be a shortfall of 300,000 positions in the region’s technology sector. Farrell continues: “A key factor in tackling the skills crisis is to encourage more women into the traditionally male domain of the IT workforce. It is widely acknowledged that a flexible working policy is essential to many female IT professionals because it allows them to balance the demands of their career with family and childcare commitments – employers have no time to lose in introducing this practice.”
Other key findings from The IT Job Board research include:
– Of the people working flexible hours, 25.3 percent did so because their employer allowed it, 24.9 percent said it was a lifestyle choice and 19.7 percent wanted to avoid busy travel times.
– 34.2 percent of the IT professionals that did work flexible hours worked from home and 32.2 percent worked part time. Only eight percent worked flexi-time.
– However, of the respondents that did not work flexible hours but would like to, 42.7 percent wanted to work from home and 31.5 percent were interested in flexi-time. Just seven percent said they wanted to work part-time.
Currently, only parents with children who are under six or disabled are entitled to request flexible working. However, in May this year, the government announced plans to extend flexible working rights to all parents with children under the age of 16, a move which will give an extra 4.5 million people the right to ask to work flexible hours.
914 people undertook the IT Job Board survey, which was carried out between 16 and 29 May 2008.