This week saw the one year anniversary of Government legislation stating that all of us working in the UK have the right to request flexible working. We wanted to take a look at the impact this legislation has had on small and medium businesses (SMB) employees and also asked one of our SMB customers how they feel flexible working has benefitted them.
Ipsos MORI and One Poll carried out research of 1,000 UK SMB employees. The research found that that, despite high levels of favourability for flexible working and over half (53%) of small and medium business (SMB) workers aware that the new legislation exists, uptake since the law passed has been slow.
It’s not that employees don’t want it – over a fifth (22%) have requested flexible working as a direct result of the law – the issue is that, despite the legislation, a significant portion of British office workers (55%) are still required by employers to work from the office within designated working hours. More than two in five (44%) said it is not possible to work remotely under any circumstances.
Those that have taken advantage of flexible working point to significant benefits. For instance, over a third (35%) said it makes them more motivated, with a similar number (36%) also stating it makes them more productive. Over half (52%) said that flexible working makes their work/life balance easier to manage.
And it’s not just the employees that benefit. Guy Blaskey, Founder of Pooch & Mutt, a small business that has embraced flexible working told us: “Being able to work remotely is key to Pooch & Mutt’s success and phenomenal growth rates. We are a small company and everyone has to multi task. This means we are often out of the office; working remotely, attending shows, visiting customers and pitching for new business. We always get feedback when we are out and about that we need to share with others in the office, and remote working tools allow us to do this easily.”
Other key findings of the research include:
- More than 80% of SMB employees that requested flexible working from their employers said it has made a positive difference to their working life
- 31% said they noticed a ‘big, positive change’ in their working life after requesting flexible working
- There is more work to be done as one in three workers (33%) said that fewer distractions would help them be more productive
- However, not all SMB employees are offered these benefits; 44% of respondents said they aren’t able to work remotely
- This impacts creativity – only one in ten (11%) employees have ever had their best work-related idea in the office.