Barriers to flexible working

The human resources and IT departments of the UK's medium to large organisations are going head to head in the battle to promote...

The human resources and IT departments of the UK's medium to large organisations are going head to head in the battle to promote flexible working, according to a survey by business communications outsourcer Nextra UK, writes Ross Bentley.

Only 4% of the companies surveyed believe their IT department actively promotes flexible working, although nearly half (42%) believe that their HR department does.

Some 57% of respondents have flexible working guidelines in place and a quarter believe that the board actively promotes it as a working practice. However 49% believe that the unavailability of flexible working solutions and the resources to supply and support them 24x7 is the greatest barrier to flexible working.

The survey also produced profiles of the typical flexi- and non-flexi-worker. The typical flexi-worker is a working, married mother aged over 25 who is highly organised and independent. She would like more childcare support, sabbaticals and flexi-time but is not so interested in technical gadgets such as mobile phones or personal digital assistants.

The typical non-flexi-worker is a single male under the age of 25. He is IT savvy and does not care about having a greater work-life balance as he has few responsibilities. He is however interested in the newest technologies, such as the latest Wap phones and interactive Palm Pilots.

"The survey shows that those that flexi-work are also likely to be the least IT savvy within an organisation, said Barry Hartrop, chief executive of Nextra UK.

"This emphasises the need for IT support to be constantly available as productivity gains from flexible working - not to mention return on investment in the technology itself - will be lost if the technology is not accessible," said Hartrop.

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