Flexible working - a growing global trend

Flexible working - a growing global trend
Enterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation

Posted: Wed 25th Apr 2012

We talk a lot about the benefits of flexible working and how it can help you grow your business cost-effectively. We also talk about how more and more businesses are allowing employees to work flexibly. But do we have any stats to back that up? Well, actually we do"¦

Or, rather, Enterprise Nation sponsor Regus does. Earlier this year, the workplace solutions provider asked 17,000 business people across the globe whether they allowed flexible working in their business and what they thought the perceived benefits were. What's apparent from the Flexible Working Goes Global report is that, from Mexico to China, flexible working - allowing employees to work flexible hours or from locations away from their workplace - is becoming a mainstream practice.  In fact, according the Regus survey, 81 per cent of businesses globally offer their employees a choice about where and when they work. Businesses in Romania (79%) were most persuaded of the benefits of flexible working and businesses in Australia (48%) the least convinced. Here are some of the benefits of flexible working identified by Regus and what the survey respondents thought:

1. Cost-savings

60 per cent of the survey respondents believed that flexible working practices, whether related to office hours or location, were more cost efficient than fixed office working. This belief was most prevalent in Spain, South Africa and the Netherlands.

2. Employee motivation and reward

According to the survey, 70 per cent of businesses globally flexible working is more family-friendly than fixed working practices and offers and effective way to motivate and reward family-friendly employees.

3. More productive staff

Four out of ten businesses (41%) believe that flexible working improves employee productivity and a third believe that motivation also increases when flexible working is allowed. This belief is most common in Belgium and Denmark and least common in Canada.

4. Access to a wider pool of talent

One fifth of businesses globally (21%) also feel that flexible working helps attract a wider talent pool (21%) and even allows them to employ valuable people that live in more remote parts of their country (19%). This belief, unsurprisingly, was most strongly held in three very large countries - the USA, India and Canada. It was far less significant in Belgium"¦

5. Rapid scaling up of operations

The same number (21%) also believed that flexible working enabled businesses to scale up quickly in periods of sudden growth. Regus note that this is of particular interest in emerging economies, where growth can be rapid and considerable.

What about the UK?

In the UK it seems that we're not as keen on flexible working or as convinced of its benefits as many other nations are. In fact, we seem to have slightly mixed feelings. For example, fewer UK businesses than the global average believed that flexible working was more cost-effective or resulted in more productive staff. However, UK businesses are more likely than the global average to believe that flexible working gives access to a wider talent pool or that it motivates staff. UK businesses, though, are keen on outsourcing - and we'll be looking more closely at this next week, thanks to another Regus survey.

The bigger picture

The report notes also that, overall, flexible working practices are on the increase across the globe, with cost being the main stimulus. "Businesses the world over are finding they need to prepare themselves in order to avoid the pitfalls of unnecessary overheads. Those in developed economies need to contain costs in order to return to full profit. Those in emerging economies want to grasp rapid growth without incurring escalating and uncontrolled costs," the report notes. But these businesses are finding other benefits, too: "Many firms are now using flexible hours or locations to motivate and reward their employees. In addition to increasing employee loyalty and motivation, flexible working is reported to increase productivity, improve self-discipline and allow businesses to access a wider talent pool including workers that reside in remote parts of the county, as well as young families and working mums."

Read more about flexible, virtual and mobile working on Enterprise Nation

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Claim your exclusive $75 Elance credit through Enterprise Nation Photo credit: Kelly Sue DeConnick

Enterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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