Employers ‘fight shy’ of flexible working

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EMPLOYERS are holding back attempts to increase productivity and staff well-being by failing to press ahead with flexible working arrangements, according to a new report.

A survey of 400 businesses and 2,000 workers by communications giant O2 found that staff were willing to embrace new ways of working, but they were not being supported by their employers.

Three out of four employees said productivity increased if they could change working arrangements, while one in 10 regarded flexi-working as more important than pay or holidays.

Almost four out of five employers said flexible working was encouraged in their organisation, but fewer than one in five staff agreed. O2 business director Ben Dowd said: “Just six months since Britain’s biggest flexible working opportunity, the Olympics, it’s shocking that less than one fifth of people feel they are encouraged to work flexibly.

“Businesses must sit up and take notice of this critical evolution in employee behaviour and create a business culture equipped to support it. Talking about it simply isn’t enough. To create a truly flexible working culture, actions speak louder than words.”

O2 said many flexible working arrangements it brought in during last summer’s Olympics had remained in place.

A Department for Business spokesman said: “The Government fully supports flexible working, which is why we are extending the right to request it to all employees. We want to remove the cultural assumption that flexible working only benefits parents and carers, allowing everyone to better balance work with their personal life.

“Flexible working is good for business – it can boost motivation and productivity of staff and ultimately help support growth of our economy.”