A third of Britons claim companies still don’t offer flexible working

Unify research finds despite Flexible Working Policy 37% of UK businesses still not offering option to employees

Despite the UK introducing a Flexible Working Policy into legislation in June 2014, more than a third (37%) of Britons claim their companies are not yet offering flexible working arrangements, a survey by Censuswide on behalf of Unify has found.

The communications and software provider questioned staff at more than 1,500 UK-based businesses. Of those, 39% said they would be more loyal to the business if it offered flexible working and only 24% would currently recommend their place of work to friends or peers.  

Robert Keenan, head of portfolio management at Unify UK & Ireland, said employees are serious about finding better work/life integration.

He pointed out that last year’s Volume 4 of Unify’s NW2W (New Way to Work) Index found that nearly half of employees would choose a flexible working arrangement over a pay rise and almost a third would change employer if offered flexible work elsewhere.

“For those employers that are serious about attracting and maintaining the best talent, it is time to start enabling new ways of working,” said Keenan.

According to the report, entitled Humanising the Enterprise, the constraints of an office environment are frustrating for many workers. 

Some 28% said they do not care where they work and 40% said they would find it to be a major liberation and improvement to their professional and personal lives if they were able to work entirely outside of the office. Over half (51%) said their colleagues and other interruptions distract them from doing their jobs.

Other challenges of working in a corporate environment included commuting (30%), poor quality equipment (22%) and a poor communications infrastructure for colleagues who work remotely (14%).

Keenan said flexible working is here to stay. 

“More and more employees will be striving to achieve what they consider to be their perfect version of work/life integration. It is up to employers to find ways of enabling new ways of working while ensuring that employees remain connected to each other and their clients,” he said.

Over a quarter of respondents said they work remotely at least once a week. Two in five (39%) identified their homes as one of the most productive places to work.

When at work, 31% of respondents said they would switch off email to avoid distraction. This was followed by instant messaging (27%) and social networks (26%).

Over half (55%) of employees cited regular face-to-face contact with colleagues and clients, along with the ability to share ideas and get real-time feedback, as the most important factors of working with a team in an office.

According to Keenan, the advancement of communication and collaboration technology in recent years has driven flexible working. 

“Traditional enterprise communications infrastructure has to catch up fast if employers hope to keep employees engaged and productive,” he said. “Implementing a strategic flexible working policy, and finding the right collaboration technology to support this, is one potential method of bridging this gap between employee expectation and companies delivering on work/life integration requests.”

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