Support gathers for flexible working in UK

A major new report from the Institute of Directors (IoD) and Unum – ‘Flexible Working: the new world of work’ – reveals evidence of overwhelming support for flexible working practices amongst UK companies.

The report – ‘Flexible working: the new world of work’ – provides strong encouragement to businesses investigating how to expand flexible working practices. One in two IoD members report that there has been a noticeable impact on the bottom-line from the use of flexible working. And all the measured impacts of flexible working were found to be positive; this included on productivity, profitability, customer service, recruitment, retention, absenteeism, overhead costs, morale, team working and knowledge sharing.

The main drivers of flexible working practices were found to be recruitment, retention and supporting business needs. Interestingly, the weakest driver of flexible working was legislative compliance, implying that the business community doesn’t need to be told to implement flexible working – it is already ahead of the legislative curve.

The IoD and Unum survey also considered the government’s proposed extension of the right to request flexible working to parents of older children. Two-thirds of business leaders said that any extension would have no significant impact on their organisation. However, the dangers of overly prescriptive legislation were apparent; 26 per cent of business leaders said the proposed extension would adversely impact their organisation.

The survey also examined the barriers to implementing flexible working. Operational or line management issues together with a fear of fragmentation, were cited as the most significant barriers.

Commenting on the report findings, Miles Templeman, director general of the IoD said: “In terms of both time and location, flexible working practices are almost certain to expand considerably over the coming years. What business doesn’t need is the heavy hand of government, when, as this survey shows, the business case is far more compelling and persuasive than regulation. The world of work will be revolutionised and maybe sooner than we think.”

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