Employers 'losing out' through lack of flexibility

Companies stuck in traditional working patterns are not reaping the benefits of greater productivity and employee wellbeing that result from more flexible work arrangements, a new study by O2 reveals.

Three out of four employees, or 75%, say they are at their most productive when they are allowed to alter their work schedule.

And one out of 10 employees, or 11%, say a flexible working arrangement is of greater value to them than their pay or holiday terms.

While nearly four out of five employers, or 77%, say their organisations are keen to promote flexi-working, fewer than one out of five, or 19%, of workers say their employers actively encourage flexible working arrangements.

The O2 study reveals a sharp difference between what companies say and what they do, as well as workers' understanding of their employers' procedures and ways in which companies can actually help their employees.

Companies are not doing a good job of communicating their flexi-working policy to employees, it appears. While 56% of companies say their policy on flexible working is clear, only 30% of workers say the same.

Managers fail when it comes to leading through their actions too. While 70% of managers say they are working at setting an example by often altering their work timetable or working from home, only 18% of workers see this happening.

"Just six months since Britain's biggest flexible working opportunity, the Olympics, it's shocking that less than one fifth of people feel they are encouraged to work flexibly," O2 business director Ben Dowd said.

"Businesses must sit up and take notice of this critical evolution in employee behaviour and create a business culture equipped to support it. Talking about it simply isn't enough. To create a truly flexible working culture, actions speak louder than words."

O2 says businesses can dramatically change their working patterns by all at once taking on a major rethinking of their culture and shocking new flexible working into action.

In 2012, O2 adopted this method to launch a flexi-working pilot. A year later, over one third of O2 workers have altered their working patterns, the firm revealed.

Copyright Press Association 2013