Could flexible working be the future of business?

A survey has delved in to the issue of flexible working, with nine in 10 UK workers thinking it will become the most common employment model in the near future.

The survey, published by HR recruiter Ortus, found that 96% of HR professionals agreed that it will become the main model of employment. However, only 12% (one worker in eight) thought flexible working to be a "vital" benefit - a lower amount than the number of respondents who considered a smartphone to be a significant benefit to business.

Rather than any benefits it might bring to the workforce, many respondents felt that flexible working was more likely to be introduced for business reasons. Around 51% said they felt the most likely reason for the growth of flexible working was productivity and efficiency, while just 12% said they felt it was to help employees cope with the number of working hours.

In a list of job benefits typically made available to employees, the study found that this perception of flexible working hours as a business benefit rather than an employee benefit lead to flexible working being ranked as only the sixth most important option on the list.

The most important benefit ranked was 25 days' holiday (40%), followed by a company pension scheme (29%), an annual bonus scheme (24%) took third place, with smartphone (18%), insurance (16%) and flexible working (12%) in fourth, fifth and sixth places.

The survey did however highlight a gender gap in the perceived value of flexible working. Around 16% of female respondents said it was indeed a "vital" benefit whereas fewer males (9%) responded with this option.

Copyright Press Association 2013