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Flexible working must 'become the norm', says report

Flexible working is the best way to increase day-to-day productivity, according to research from HR recruitment firm, Ortus.

The research found 96% said this would boost work levels with 59% saying working from home would achieve the same result, suggesting allowing employees to work around their home life would create a more productive workforce.

In the survey of nearly 600 HR professionals it found a more positive approach to health and wellbeing is needed as 52% said that gym and exercise breaks within office hours would increase productivity.

The report revealed despite the focus on flexible working by HR professionals, it was ranked as only the sixth most vital benefit among employees themselves, lagging behind 25 days' holiday and a company pension.

Stephen Menko, UK director of Ortus, said: "Getting the most out of the workforce is a core function of the HR profession and attitudes have changed about how to achieve this. The focus is more on the health and happiness of staff rather than all-nighters and lots of meetings.

"A clear case of the carrot and not the stick. Allowing people to work around their lives rather than the other way around is easier today.

Menko believes the "case for flexible working" still needs to be made to some employers if it's going to "become the norm".

When asked about longer-term measures to boost overall performance, the focus was on retaining and promoting top staff. The most popular measure was improved talent management (82%) followed by better succession management (67%) and mentoring schemes (67%). A third said more holidays would boost performance in the longer term and nearly half (44%) said more staff training.

Menko said: "There is a link from day to day happiness and longer term productivity - a happier, more contented workforce is less likely to be looking for a move.

"However, in the longer term, talent management is perhaps the most important element of a productive workforce. HR managers are mindful that above all employees are still driven and are impatient for progress through the ranks, and if not forthcoming, they may start to look elsewhere to further their career."

The online research was conducted in June among 570 HR professionals by Ortus.