Vodafone's Flexible: friend or foe? survey of 8,000 employers and employees found that 83% reported an improvement in productivity in their business after introducing flexible working policies, and 58% believed that flexible working policies had a positive impact on their organisation’s reputation.
Out of those without flexible working policies, 55% said that employee morale would improve if these were to be introduced, 44% said they believed productivity would improve as a result, and 30% thought profits would increase.
A third (33%) of organisations without flexible working arrangements said they believed it would not suit the culture of their organisation, while 30% were concerned about friction between employees working flexibly and those who do not.
A quarter (25%) were worried that work would be unfairly distributed between flexible and non-flexible staff, and 22% believed employees would not work as hard if allowed to adopt flexible working patterns and technologies.
Vodafone group enterprise chief executive Nick Jeffery said that the research reveals a “profound and rapid shift” in the modern workplace. “Employers are telling us that flexible working boosts profits while their employees tell us they’re more productive,” he said. “Central to all of this are new technologies that are reshaping every sector, from high-speed mobile data networks and fixed-line broadband to the latest collaborative cloud services. We truly are in an era when work is what you do, not where you go.”
Rob Crowley, head of people and talent for wealth management firm Nutmeg, said that flexible working can provide “big improvements” in engagement levels and commitment to a company's purpose if it is done right.
“It surprises me that there are still employers who do not operate flexible working practices, and don't recognise the clear benefits of increased profitability and productivity through introducing them,” he told HR magazine. “Clearly more needs to be done to ensure UK companies are spending more time attaining the benefits of a flexible workforce.”