Britain’s businesses are ahead of the legislative game when it comes to flexible working, according to a major survey.
A report from the Institute of Directors and disability insurance group Unum, Flexible Working – the new world of work – reveals overwhelming support for flexible working practices among UK companies.
In a survey of 500 business leaders 86 per cent say their organisation already operates flexible working practices and 93 per cent say they would do so even if there was no legal requirement.
The report provides strong encouragement to businesses investigating how to expand flexible working.
Richard Boot, West Midlands chairman of the IoD, said: “Half of the IoD members surveyed report 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, with improvements in productivity, profitability, customer service, recruitment, retention, absenteeism, overhead costs, morale, team working and knowledge sharing.”
The survey found the main drivers of flexible working were recruitment, retention and supporting business needs.
Richard Boot added: “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 have an adverse impact on 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.
Mr Boot added: “In terms of both time and location, flexible working practices are almost certain to expand considerably over the coming years.”