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Flexible working could boost UK economy, study finds

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Britain's economy could receive a boost from rising productivity if firms and workers agree to more flexible working hours, according to a study by Vodafone and the Royal Society of Arts (RSA).

The report found employers could enjoy cost reductions and productivity gains of up to £8.1 billion by optimising their approach to flexible working.

The Flex Factor, based on a survey of almost 3,000 UK workers, found employees estimate they could gain about five productive hours a week through better ways of working.

"Flexible working isn't just working from home and these findings reveal that, with an optimised approach, businesses can overcome any downsides and greatly increase efficiency and productivity, as well as boost their bottom line," said Vodafone enterprise director Jeroen Hoencamp. 

"In the global race for growth, organisations should embrace better ways of working consciously as a strategy for success as opposed to ignoring them."

The report showed while the majority (77%) of UK employees work in organisations that offer some kind of flexible working, 13% who would like flexible working aren't being offered it or don't know it is available.

To realise the benefits of flexible working, the report reccomends a culture of mutual trust and commitment between employers and employees.

Julian Thompson, director of enterprise at the RSA, said: "Our findings show there is no "one size fits all" approach and there are costs to be considered. But enabling people to work flexibly can make a significant difference to our economic and social prosperity, both now and in the future."