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The Rise of Flexible Work in the UK

As people struggle to balance their family and work life, flexible working is becoming an increasingly viable option. Many businesses are now offering flexible working hours in a bid to increase productivity by allowing workers to choose a schedule that is better suited to their personal situation

As people struggle to balance their family and work life, flexible working is becoming an increasingly viable option. Many businesses are now offering flexible working hours in a bid to increase productivity by allowing workers to choose a schedule that is better suited to their personal situation. 

Indeed, statistics now reveal that flexible working is truly beneficial, not just to the workers themselves, but also in terms of improving a business's profitability and benefiting the economy overall. 

Why do People Choose to Work Flexible Hours? 

Improvements in communications and information technology mean that employees don't need to be at their office every day of the working week. People can now work from home on a regular basis whilst remaining in contact with the office. This not only enables people to save time and money by avoiding the daily commute, but also gives them more quality time to spend with their loved ones.

 If an employee is a part-time carer for a family member, then they can continue to earn much-needed money through flexible working whilst also providing their loved one with the essential care they need. 

Although workers are often required to stay within the regular working environment, there are still flexible working options available to them. For example, if an employee agrees to work annual hours, then they will work a set amount of hours over the course of a year, but can still organise their work schedule for each week. This enables an employee to choose when to have time off and work around family commitments. 

According to research conducted by Georgetown University and The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in May 2011, up to 80 per cent of employees state that they would be much happier if they were offered flexible working options, with over two thirds reporting greater job satisfaction as a result. 

Flexitime is another option sometimes offered to employees that allows them to create their own work schedules except during specific times of the year, such as when the business is operating at their busiest time. A similar option relates to compressed hours where an employee works the same number of agreed hours over fewer days, resulting in longer working days but a shorter overall working week. 

These are just a few options available to many workers all over the world, helping them to balance their work and life commitments. 

What are the Advantages of Allowing Flexible Working?

There are many advantages for companies offering flexible working - and these relate to various economic benefits, not to mention increased profits.

According to a recent Polycom survey, over half of a company's ability to generate revenue depends on the positive productivity of its employees and that an extra 5.1 productive hours per week results in an extra £4,200 profit per employee. In addition, around 13 per cent of workers would welcome more flexible hours and options available to them, and according to a RSA & Vodaphone Report in July 2013, this which would gain around £8.1bn for the UK economy, worth around 5% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product). 

By consulting with employees about their individual needs, businesses can help their workers to develop flexible work schedules and choose work locations that will keep them happy, thus improving productivity. Over two thirds of businesses feel that increased productivity has a much greater impact on business's success than cutting costs. 

All this shows that flexible working is becoming increasingly popular for businesses looking to improve productivity, whilst providing the support that employees need. The European Working Conditions Observatory (EWCO) completed a survey in 2011 which shows that employers' perceptions regarding flexible working has improved significantly over the years. Their findings revealed that as UK employers are largely in favour of extending flexible working to all employees this has had a +30 per cent impact on employee relations, a +33 per cent increase in recruiting and retaining, and has also helped lower staff absenteeism by up to and over 21 per cent.

The Rise of Flexible Work in the UK [Infographic]

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The Rise of Flexible Work in the UK – An infographic by the team at Expert Market UK