Flexible working is key to growth

Jul 22, 2008

The study by the Institute of Directors and Unum, entitled Flexible Working – the new world of work, provides strong encouragement to businesses investigating how to expand flexible working practices.

More companies in Milton Keynes offered flexible working and directors have urged those planning the city’s expansion to consider the growing need for flexible working when designing and building new homes.

The main drivers of flexible working practices were recruitment, retention and supporting business needs, the report found.

IoD Milton Keynes branch chairman Philip Smith (pictured) said: “In terms of both time and location, flexible working practices are almost certain to expand considerably over the coming years. This is particularly so in Milton Keynes where there is a great number of smaller businesses who already use flexible working to achieve a more effective balance in their business.

“What business does not need is the heavy hand of government, when, as this survey shows, the business case is far more compelling and persuasive than regulation. The world of work will be revolutionised and maybe sooner than we think.”

In the survey of 500 business leaders, 86 per cent said their organisation operates flexible working practices and 93 per cent would operate flexible working even if there was no legislative requirement. One in two IoD members report that there has been a noticeable impact on the bottom line from the use of flexible working.

Two-thirds of business leaders said that the government’s proposed extension of the right to request flexible working to parents of older children 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 adversely impact their organisation.

Mr Smith said: “We know that there is widespread availability and take-up of flexible working in Milton Keynes and as more companies see the benefits, the faster change will occur. While we support everybody having the right to ask for flexible working, employees need to be realistic that in some circumstances it will not be possible.

“The city’s planners also need to take account of the changing workplace when agreeing to new housing schemes and further city centre office development. We need to build future domestic housing with the local workplace business needs firmly in mind.”

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