UK failing to exploit benefits of flexible working

Work Wise UK welcomes the report published by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) on the June 14 further reinforces its call for the UK to adopt new innovative smarter working practices. The report highlights that in terms of flexible working, one form of smarter working, the UK is significantly lagging behind its European competitors and is failing to exploit innovative working methods.

Sir Digby Jones, UK Skills Envoy and former director general of the CBI, recently signed the Work Wise UK Concordat backing the implementation of smarter working practices across the UK. He joins many other signatories including the CBI, TUC, British Chambers of Commerce, BT and Transport for London, committed to bring about a workstyle revolution which will make the UK the most progressive economy in the world.

Sir Digby Jones said: “The nature of work is changing, and UK business needs to come out of the dark ages and realise that it cannot continue to use working practices that originate from the 19th century. It needs to modernise, change its approach, retrain its management, and understand the benefits of new smarter working practices.”

At the EOC launch of the report, the Rt Hon David Cameron MP, the leader of the opposition, called for organisations, both public and private, to make flexible working available for all employees. This is putting pressure on the government to legislate to extend current flexible working rights for employees.

Phil Flaxton, Work Wise UK’s chief executive said: “Although there has been progress in the adoption of innovative working styles, this report highlights we have a long way to go. The percentage of companies practicing flexi-time in our competitors Germany and Sweden at 90% are almost double that of the UK at just 48%, and in the case of tele-working Germany, Sweden and Denmark are double, 40% of employers, compared to 20% in the UK.”

“This is a wake up call to employers who if they continue current archaic nine to five working practices, will not only miss out on productivity gains, but risk government legislation.”

EOC’s report follows a recent International Labour Organisation (ILO) survey revealing a quarter of UK employees work more than 48 hours per week, more than any other developed country.

“Phil Flaxton said: “There are numerous reports indicating the UK’s poor productivity compared with competitors. But we would not need to work such long hours, to the detriment of family and personal life, if we used the smarter working practices.

“UK management needs to stop making excuses and modernise. Smarter working practices are not only infinitely better for the workforce, they actually improve productivity. BT, a major employer in the UK, has reported productivity improvements of 20 per cent where it has introduced smarter working practices.”

Sir Digby Jones recently launched the new Work Wise UK Quality Mark, which will allow any organisation to gain recognition for their successful introduction of new smarter working practices in the workplace.

The new Mark will be assessed using the Work Wise UK Standard, which provides a framework both for organisations that have already introduced smarter working practices and wish to go further, or those that are just realising the benefits and want to start reforming their working practices.

The standard has been developed over a 12-month period, in collaboration with the TUC, Transport for London, HBOS, NHS, BT and the Association for Commuter Transport, bringing together the best in current thinking.