For the past four years, every worker in the UK has had the right to request flexible working patterns. That can either mean working remotely or having flexible hours (or a combination of the two).
But a report from Condeco recently showed that the UK is still falling behind many other nations when it comes to allowing employees to work remotely. Workplace Insight highlighted the figures, noting that at 40 per cent of the businesses surveyed worldwide, staff work flexibly at least some of the time.
In the UK, this figure is 37 per cent, while ten per cent of companies in the country don’t offer flexible working to their staff at all.
What’s more, the businesses that do offer flexible working in the UK reported that fewer than one-quarter of their staff work flexibly, compared to the global average of 21 per cent.
It’s the younger generations of workers who are driving the change towards more flexible working, as well as the likes of open-plan offices, the report added.
Product strategy and design director at Condeco Peter Otto told the news provider that it’s important for businesses to embrace this changing culture.
“Flexibility and remote working are increasingly important to today’s workers. The companies that are prepared for those workers will be able to attract the most talented candidates, both from the UK and internationally,” he stated.
However, one thing that businesses need to consider is how to facilitate meetings when their staff work remotely. That means ensuring there are suitable meeting rooms in the office, as well as having the technology in place to enable video conferences.
If you have a workforce that’s spread around the world, investing in business voip phones is a good idea, to reduce call charges and ensure that everyone can stay in touch easily.
Writing for the Evening Standard recently, Lucy Tobin extolled some of the virtues of enabling remote working. She cited research which shows that organisations that allow remote working are able to significantly reduce their rental costs, as well as the findings of a YouGov poll, where 80 per cent of workers said working remotely “encourages them to increase their productivity”.
She also pointed out that flexible working is one of the cheapest perks that businesses can provide – not to mention one that benefits the business as well as workers.
However, she noted that part of the issue with its adoption in the UK is the culture of presenteeism that persists in many workplaces.
She cited the thoughts of Robbert Rietbroek, head of PepsiCo in Australia and New Zealand, who stated that “the output or outcome is more important than the time someone physically spends in the office”.
He added that flexible working makes people happier because they are able to have “quality breaks away from work”, which makes them more productive and leads to better results for the business.
For small businesses in particular, finding a cost-effective way to boost productivity among staff could be a godsend, so it’s well worth investigating flexible and remote working to see how you could make it work for your business.