A new consortium made up of the government, businesses and unions has been launched in a bid to enhance flexible working practices in the UK.
The Anywhere Working group was launched by transport minister Norman Baker and aims to help employers come to terms with the benefits flexible working can have for both them and their employees, including reduced operating costs, a more productive workforce and happier staff.
It also aims to provide workers with the tools they need for mobile working and its founding members, which include Business in the Community (BITC), Microsoft, Nuffield, Regus and Vodafone, have pledged to help educate businesses.
“In a world where communication technologies offer the means to travel around the world in an instant without travelling at all, encouraging individuals and business to think flexibly about what ‘being there’ means is simply the smart thing to do. The advantages are undeniable – productivity and efficiency savings, a reduced carbon footprint, employee wellbeing – and are for both companies and their workers,” Mr Baker noted.
He added that flexible working will also prove to have massive benefits in times of disruption, such as in extreme bad weather or during the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Trades Union Congress general secretary Brendan Barber said: “Smarter working must be part of the modern economy. Many employees want greater access to flexible and high quality home-working and employers should do more to provide it. More flexible working patterns can also broaden access to a wider range of jobs for those unable to travel from home.”
The consortium’s creation is timely, as recent research suggested that staff are less likely to work from home in tough times as they want to be seen as visible within the office.
The study from O2 also found that more companies are insisting staff work within the office, however, this could actually have a negative effect on productivity and morale in the long run.