Not doing it yet? To launch our Flexible Working Week, we explain why you should be
So you’ve heard about flexible working, but you can’t quite see how it would help you and your business. Go on, admit it – you’re still a teensy bit cynical, aren’t you? You might even be one of the lost souls – still thinking that flexible working means employees are lounging around in their pyjamas all day while you stay chained to your desk finishing projects until 10pm.
It’s time to think again. Flexible working offers an irrefutable host of benefits to business – which is why 95% of medium-sized companies already offer it, to some degree.
And for those of you who know quite how revolutionary flexible working can be, and have already adopted it, prepare to feel very smug indeed.
BOOSTED PRODUCTIVITY: 70% of managers
It’s logical that staff who are able to better manage their time through flexible working – whether that means working remotely, on-the-go or at times of day that suit their energy patterns and personal commitments – are going to be more productive.
In fact, research by Regus found 70% of managers reported an increase in productivity after a shift to flexi-working. But many managers still fret about staff shirking off. Flying in the face of that is a 2012 study by pollsters Ipsos MORI, which found that employees actually tend to overcompensate when working out of the office. Of the workers questioned, 47% said they try to be “extra visible” by sending more emails and making more calls, while 39% said that they worked longer hours to prove they’re not slacking off.
What now? Poll staff to find out what degree of flexibility will suit them best. Give them a range of options, and use a free online service such as Surveymonkey.com to gain insights anonymously.
COST AND TIME SAVINGS: 1.6 weeks and £520 saved per year
This is how much the average London commuter would save in time and travel costs each year if they worked from home two days a week. The calculation is based on the typical Londoner, who spends 77 minutes a day commuting and around £5 on travel per day. That’s a pretty hefty saving over 12 months.
Now, we’re not suggesting you’d prefer to be sunbathing with a beer on a beach in Barcelona than sat on a conference call with Kath from accounts, but think of it this way: switching to home-working for just two days a week could save you or your employees enough time and cash for a pretty lovely holiday.
What now? Use the calculator on Anywhereworking.org to figure out how much you’d save for your own commute, and to calculate savings when applied across your whole organisation.
INCREASED REVENUE: more than six in 10 managers
This, for many, will be the number one stat that matters: 63% of managers linked a growth in revenue directly to flexible working practices, according to a survey of 2,500 senior managers conducted by Regus. After all, if it’s not going to help you grow your business, there will never be the same compulsion to explore and adopt new ways of working.
What now? Use the findings above to present the case for flexible working to your finance director. Use the statistics in this article as a template for working out how different degrees of flexibility would impact your bottom line.
EMPLOYEE RETENTION: Three in four managers
Topping the charts in a Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) 2012 survey of the top benefits of flexible working is employee retention – some 76% of 2,500 managers gave it as a reason for adopting flexible working. Fostering greater loyalty and long-term commitment to the company can only be a good thing for morale and workplace culture, and also, of course, for your bottom line: HR.com estimates “the cost of employee turnover can range from 40% to 400% of an employee’s annual salary. The total cost of turnover includes money, time and other hidden or ‘soft’ costs, which when combined, are often much more substantial than expected.”
What now? Keep an eye out for our free e-guide, out later this week, to find out more about using flexible working to improve employee retention: The good manager’s guide to flexible working.
ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS: 1.16 tonnes of carbon dioxide, annually
If you use your car to get into work, this is how much carbon dioxide you’d alleviate our battered planet of if you avoided the office two days per week, based on a total daily drive distance of 17 miles. In those two days per week alone your car emits more carbon dioxide than if you left a TV on for 250 days non-stop. And no less than six in 10 London commuters get into work by car. Can you imagine how much cleaner our air would be if more of us ditched the daily drive, at least for a day or two?
What now? Try the calculator on Anywhereworking.org to calculate your carbon emissions from travel, and to see what environmental benefits your whole organisation would gain from a switch to flexible practices.
EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT: more than seven in 10 managers
Some 72% of managers think there is a link between increased employee engagement and flexible working, according to a Regus survey of 2,500 business leaders. And it’s no surprise – managers typically report less stressed staff, who are resultantly more motivated, after a switch to flexible working practices. That’s thanks to their increased ownership of their time and improved productivity as flexible working tools and technologies allow them to work anytime, anywhere. It makes sense: you’d be more motivated overall if you could get your emails answered while waiting for a train rather than staying late in the office to finish up every evening.
What now? Keep an eye out for our free e-guide, out later this week, to find out more about using flexible working from a management perspective: The good manager’s guide to flexible working.
ATTRACTING TALENT: 83% of new recruits, 65% of employers
The Telework Research Network, as the name suggests, is pretty hot on investigating remote working. It recently found that 83% of people who joined a company in the last two years cited flexibility as an “important factor” when they decided to accept the role. And the recruitment benefits of flexible working seem here to stay. In 2009, the government’s Family Friendly Working Hours Taskforce found 65% of employers believed flexible working had a positive effect on retention and recruitment. The CIPD’s latest 2012 study of flexible working found that exactly the same portion of employers cited recruitment as a key benefit of flexi-working.
What now? Talk to your HR manager or recruitment agency to work out the best way to use flexible working as a talent attraction tool, and see how you can use that benefit to make you more appealing than rival companies.
INNOVATION: four in 10 workers
No less than 38% of workers feel they are more creative when they work flexibly, a report commissioned by Microsoft for Anywhere Working found in 2012. You don’t need us to tell you how important innovation is to enterprise. The indirect impact on your bottom line will speak for itself.
What now? Trial this effect by letting employees work from the place that suits them best for two to three days a week over the next fortnight, then get feedback from them on how it affected their work rate and creativity.
LESS SICK DAYS: more than half of managers
The CIPD’s Survey from 2012 also found that 56% of employers found that absenteeism dropped after they adopted flexible working practices. The average UK employee takes five days a year sick leave, according to separate research from the CIPD from January, and reducing that even by a day or two would, of course, reduce disruption and loss of productivity in your business. In fact, XpertHR’s annual survey found the cost of absence equated to £553 per head on average in 2012, up from £442 in 2011.
If you’re baffled at the connection between sick leave and the adoption of flexible working, consider that flexible working tends to improve work/life balance, so reducing stress and stress-related illness. And, frankly speaking, we all know that staff can sometimes get a little creative with the truth when it comes to sick leave. Giving them the freedom to work in a way that better suits them might just make them less prone to another “really bad cold”.
What now? Make sure that employees have the tools and technologies in place to work from home or from another location. A uniform solution across the whole organisation will make network security and management significantly easier. You can try Office 365, for example, for as little as £10.10 per month per user.
EVERYBODY IS DOING IT: 95% of medium-sized companies
Almost all UK firms offer some form of flexible working already. But if the statistics cited here are anything to go by, it’s high time they – and you – offered more flexibility if you’re hoping for happy, loyal employees and a more productive and profitable organisation.
What now? Talk to your network and peers to learn from their own adoption of flexible practices, so you can learn from their successes and mistakes. The Anywhere Working website is full of useful advice and case studies too.
This article is brought to you in partnership with Microsoft Office 365.
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