IGN Insights

Unlocking flexible jobs in Barking and Dagenham

Timewise no tag PMS 1000

Claire Campbell

CEO at Timewise

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Flexible working is a key enabler for many groups to access and stay in work. From parents and carers, to older workers, to those managing physical or mental health problems, being able to work reduced hours or remotely or with flexible hours can make work possible. For example, two thirds of parents say flexibility is a top priority for them when choosing a job and 8 out of 10 disabled workers says flexible working would be essential or very important to them.

The jobs brokerage team at London Borough of Barking and Dagenham are taking an innovative approach to delivering employability support and recognise the transformative potential of flexible work. Through Inclusive Growth Network support, they decided to deepen their expertise of flexible working and hiring, and approached specialist social enterprise Timewise to provide targeted training and development.

Our approach

The training and development took the form of two workshops. The first was an interactive half day training workshop focused on understanding how jobs can be designed flexibly (with place based, time based and/or reduced hours flexibility) and the legislative framework around flexible working, which has recently changed to allow flexible working requests from day one. The workshop also looked at how employers can use job carving to shape a role suitable for someone with particular barriers to work, such as a learning disability or Autism Spectrum Disorder. These job design skills can help employers consider the flex they can offer in advance of someone starting, and can be messaged clearly in job adverts to attract candidates. Job adverts which offer flexibility receive around 30% more applications.

The second workshop provided participants with a slide deck and tools they can use to speak to employers about hiring flexibly. During the workshop the team explored how to overcome the objections they might get from hiring managers and discussed the opportunities they have to influence employer practice. This included practical tips like encouraging employers to offer a new working pattern on a trial basis, so that it can be reviewed.

Taken together, these workshops have deepened team expertise and given them more confidence to engage with local employers and encourage them to offer good quality flexible roles. The simple nudge to ask if a role could be done flexibly could open up opportunities to a much wider pool of potential candidates.

Feedback from the workshops was extremely positive with 100% of participants agreeing that the training helped them to understand how to talk and influence an employer about flexible working:

'I feel my knowledge has really increased on flexible working and tools we can use to support employers.'

'Really informative training and great to be able to deliver the workshop with a bit more detail.'

What next?

The Barking and Dagenham team are already putting their new skills into practice. There are plans to connect with social care providers through their local provider forum and to discuss with HR how roles in the team are advertised in order for the Council to be leading by example.

Gemma Connelly, the manager of the Employment Brokerage team, had this to say about their experience:

'The training Timewise delivered has provided the team with invaluable knowledge, skills and tools in flexible working, job design and job carving. It has provided the team with the confidence to engage and influence a wide range of employers to re-consider their hiring practices which in turn will help us to reach our aims of opening up a greater variety of jobs for potentially disadvantaged job seekers in Barking and Dagenham and beyond. As a result of the workshops our team will now be hosting employer focused workshops covering why flexible working matters, the benefits of hiring flexibly, current legislation and how to make flexible working work for them.'

If you’re interested in finding out more about training in flexible working and hiring, please contact

This work has been delivered through fully funded IGN implementation advice – bespoke support, tailored to member needs, which helps to unlock projects that deliver inclusive growth.