By Daniel Hunter

Organisations are failing to embrace the true benefits of flexible working patterns because they don’t have the right management systems in place to monitor their staff, says Auto Time Solutions, one of the UK’s leading providers of workforce management solutions.

A recent survey by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) found that flexible working is currently offered by 94 per cent of organisations, with flexible hours, part-time working, off-site working and job sharing being the most popular forms.

But despite flexible working becoming commonplace in the UK, the same survey revealed that many negative attitudes towards flexible working still exist, with almost a third of respondents having heard colleagues make disparaging comments about those working flexibly.

Christian Berenger, Business Development Director at Auto Time Solutions says there remains a strong stigma attached to flexible working, especially employees working from home.

He says the stigma attached to flexible working is a concern for employers, especially given the fact that the Government is looking to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees in 2014.

He says many employers will be seeking ways to support staff requests and suggests that the latest web-based time and attendance systems can remove any negativity and concerns surrounding the management of flexible working practices by providing managers with full transparency of their workforce.

“The research from the ILM showed that more organisations in the UK are adopting a more flexible approach to business, but once again it has also highlighted the perceived concerns associated with introducing flexible working measures. This is a particular concern for employers, especially if the Government proceeds with its plans to extend the right to flexible working," he said.

“Most negative attitudes tend to stem from the perception that workers can only be productive if they are in an office environment. But this is an outdated view and shows that employers have failed to adopt the right technology needed to support flexible working policies.”

Today’s time and attendance systems allow business to be increasingly flexible with their working patterns whilst providing the necessary tools required to accurately monitor staff performance in real-time regardless of their location.

The latest time and attendance systems, such as Auto Time’s flagship product Vanquish, are able to facilitate the management of flexible working patterns.

The latest systems are hosted online and give more responsibility to the employee to manage their own time but enable managers to stay in control by synchronising staff rosters with actual staff attendance levels. With critical data at their disposal, managers can make timely decisions about their workforce and gain a true insight into absenteeism and overtime costs.

Whilst primarily acting as a management tool, advances in time and attendance technology permit staff to work efficiently from any location, as remote workers can ‘clock in’ using portable web-based devices and manage their own working time using self-service functions which can be accessed from anywhere with a reliable internet connection.

Trusting staff to manage their own working time can help to improve their morale and job satisfaction because they can strike a better work-life balance, whilst for employers the benefits are realised through staff retention and the fact that more emphasis is placed on results and productivity rather than time spent in the office.

“Companies that empower workers to manage their own working time and provide them with greater flexibility in their roles can achieve greater efficiency and staff productivity, which is crucial in the tough market conditions that organisations are faced with today," Berenger added.

“With the Government looking to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees from next year 26 weeks' continuous service with their employer and not just those with caring responsibilities, it is critical that businesses invest in the right technology to change any negative attitudes that may exist about flexible working practices, and to make it as practical as possible for them to incorporate a flexible working programme for their employees.”

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