By Jonathan Davies
Today (30 June) is the one year anniversary of the government introducing legislation that gave all UK workers the right to request their employers for flexible working.
But it seems businesses still aren't meeting their staff's expectations when it comes to flexible working. A recent study found that just 6% of job adverts shout about the provision of flexible working.
I caught up with Vodafone UK's enterprise director, Phil Mottram, to see what flexible working has done for the telecoms giant.
“Employees, businesses and the economy all stand to benefit from flexible working practices," he said.
"While benefits such as increased productivity, reduced overheads, talent retention and increased profitability have all been talked about for some time, a recent report into women and flexible working by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) revealed working schedules in the UK are still among the most rigid in Northern Europe."
"In today’s environment, flexible working has become more of an expectation than a perk for employees. Our own research found that 85% of managers believe employees now expect greater flexibility from the companies they work for. Not only that, two thirds of people who have tried flexible working feel it improved their job satisfaction. Offering flexible working practices is therefore an important part of attracting and retaining the right talent to help businesses be ready to meet their customers’ needs now and in the future , to remain competitive and ultimately to fuel the wider UK economy.
"As well as being able to attract the best talent and meet the needs of their employees, businesses that fully embrace flexible working are also helping themselves. Giving employees the freedom to work from anywhere at any time can drive significant increases in productivity. Vodafone itself saw a 20 per cent increase in productivity from implementing flexible working in 2009. It also means businesses can accommodate more staff with the same or less space by moving to shared or free desk space, drive down overheads in terms of real estate costs and utilities, and boost profitability.
"Flexible working doesn’t mean removing boundaries completely, though. Employers need to ensure their staff know what output and results are expected of them so there is still a mutual understanding and level of trust between both parties regarding what needs to be achieved. If management can successfully drive this change in culture, they stand to gain huge benefits for their employees and ultimately for their business.”