Flexible working is the norm and no longer the exception

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Four fifths of companies in the UK are now offering their staff flexible working, according to new research amongst 4000 UK companies commissioned by workplace provider Regus.

However, the research highlights that trust remains a major hurdle for many companies: 38% of UK businesses only offer this privilege to senior staff. Those companies embracing flexible working practices are shown to reap major benefits: 40% report improved staff productivity, 67% say staff achieve a better work-life balance, and – crucially – 55% of firms acknowledge that flexible working costs less than conventional, fixed office working.

Flexible working can incorporate office hours and/or location. Indeed, a quarter of respondents pointed to the recruitment benefits of mobile or home working, claiming flexibility in location helps them access a wider talent pool and attract staff based in remote areas. Rising oil prices are likely to further focus attention on remote working in the coming months, as UK employers face pressure to help commuters reduce their monthly transport costs.

Celia Donne, Regional Director at Regus comments: “That flexible work has become the norm is good news all round: from employer to employee, from families to wider society and the environment. For the first time, our global report based on 17,000 respondents – including 4000 in the UK – provides conclusive statistical evidence on the availability of flexible working and the significant benefits.

“However, by basing the right to flexibility on seniority, some firms are missing huge opportunities and may even alienate new talent that they may have gone to a great effort to attract. With the Government announcing that a taskforce of business leaders and organisations will be appointed to champion the case for flexible working in the private sector,[1] it is disappointing to still see some companies letting trust issues hold them back from flexi-working for all employees. It is encouraging, though, that a good proportion of firms see the advantages, even if they are not doing it at the moment, we can expect further growth in flexible working over the decade.”

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  1. Celia Donne’s comment that flexible working has become the norm is akin to saying that women are in the boardroom since we have 3 female board directors among the FTSE 100. It’s misleading and liable to lead to complacency.

    I’ve no doubt flexible working policies are the norm, but of course they would have to be given the legislation. And I’ve no doubt many junior employees are able to negotiate flexible arrangements – although we need to be careful that these are not simply just part-time working iwth all the attendant “penalties”.

    At senior levels, however, in my experience flexible working is far from being the norm. Furthermore, many organisational cultures operate against the possibility of working flexibly once an employee gets beyond a certain grade. Policies are not enough, it’s High Time flexible working was available at senior levels.

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