By Daniel Hunter

Today (Wednesday), one of the UK’s largest communications employers is launching the biggest flexible working initiative of its kind.

Employees based at O2’s Slough HQ will participate in a flexible working pilot, operating and working remotely for the day as the doors are shut and lights turned off at the business’ 200,000 sq ft office.

Since 2006, the number of employers offering flexible working has doubled but an initiative like this has never been attempted on this scale.

One third of UK businesses are expected to encourage flexible working this summer as the country hosts the world’s largest sporting event. After two months of preparation, the initiative is being trialled ahead of the Olympic Games to establish how businesses can work remotely to avoid the expected operating, travel and business challenges, as hundreds of thousands of spectators descend on London and the other host cities around the UK.

O2 will publish the results of the pilot and assist businesses ahead of the summer to implement contingency plans to better manage disruptive events that might otherwise impact on operations.

The Flexible working day will also play a part in O2’s sustainability plans in which O2 pledges to help over 125,000 business employees work flexibly, and collectively save over 500,000 miles of travel and over 160,000 thousand tonnes of carbon emissions.

Growing numbers of businesses will need to adopt such practices in the future, with the number of mobile workers set to exceed 1.2 billion by 2013, representing 35% of the total global workforce. O2 have increased the adoption of flexible working practices since October 2010 and have saved £3 million in overheads to date, reducing the number of desks at their Slough HQ by 550 without reducing staff numbers.

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