Research published this year by UC EXPO interviewed 1,000 British ‘White-collar’ employees about what was most important to them in the workplace. Flexible working came out on top by a large margin, with 82% of respondents saying that flexible working hours would make them more likely to accept a job offer than one offering fixed hours.
For the modern British worker, therefore, the ability to have some flexibility in their work hours and environment tops other important concerns, such as regular pay rises, career progression and company pension contributions. These things are, of course, important, but it just goes to show just how important flexible working is in today’s economy.
Let’s look at the findings in more detail:
Happiness boosts productivity
When the research was carried out at the end of 2015, it was shown that nearly 30% of workers regularly work from home or outside the office environment. And the benefit of this according to the respondents? Increased happiness and a feeling of greater control over work/life balance.
The benefit to businesses of this trend is increased productivity. Many companies have historically harboured concerns that employees working from home would be less productive due to greater distractions and less motivation from the presence of colleagues. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case. More than two-thirds of respondents reported increased or similar productivity while working remotely than when doing the same job in the office.
Claiming their rights
By law, every UK worker is now entitled to request flexible working conditions from their employer. This places the responsibility on companies to make reasonable arrangements for workers who request flexible working, including putting the infrastructure in place for employees to work remotely when required. This legal requirement isn’t yet fully common knowledge among the workforce, but more and more employees are becoming assertive in requesting their rights to flexible working. The same survey carried out in 2014 showed 50% of workers unaware of their right to flexible working. The 2015 study indicated this proportion had dropped to only 39%.
By pre-empting these requests and establishing a flexible work environment for all new and current employees, a company can present a positive and attractive image that will boost its brand and help attract the best new recruits.
A dynamic workplace for the digital economy
The rise of mobile technologies and high quality, cloud-based working environments makes remote working accessible and affordable for all businesses. With nearly a third of the British workforce working flexible hours, and with this trend rapidly increasing, the era of the 9-to-5 office job may be reaching its end. In its place is a dynamic, flexible and remote workplace told to meet the needs of the digital economy.
Tricia Hay is Owner, Director of First Base Employment Limited