UK flexible working options on rise, says survey

Sheffield businesses offer the most opportunity for flexible working, with Brighton and Liverpool showing lower rates, according to a survey of working habits in the UK

A survey of working habits in the UK has identified the towns most likely to offer flexible working, with Sheffield coming out on top after a third of companies there said they do so.

Brighton and Liverpool came out as the towns with the lowest rates of flexible working — only 15 percent of companies based in both towns offered it to their staff.

Wales was found to be the most flexible region with almost a third (29 percent) of workers saying they work remotely, beating off competition from the south of England (25 percent) and Scotland (22 percent).

The East Midlands was found to be the least flexible region, with only 16 percent of companies offering remote working.

The survey shows the majority (63 percent) of UK businesses offer some type of flexibility to employees — not too surprising given that UK law now requires businesses to consider flexible working requests from parents with children under the age of 16 — totalling some 10.5 million UK workers.

The YouGov survey of 500 businesses and 4,500 employees, commissioned by mobile operator Orange, also found the majority (72 percent) of businesses believe flexible working boosts company morale and more than half (53 percent) think it improves productivity. A similar majority (58 percent) also reckons it boosts staff retention.

Companies in the IT and telecoms sector were the most likely to offer workers flexible working, the survey found, with more than a third (39 percent) doing so, followed by media, marketing and PR (31 percent); and law, finance and banking (26 percent).

The survey also found almost half (46 percent) of flexible workers have been furnished with a laptop, around a third (35 percent) have been given a mobile phone, 29 percent have access to a VPN, and 23 percent have been given broadband while just 11 percent have a company smartphone.

In related news, telco BT — a champion of homeworking, with more than 10,000 staff who work from home and a further 64,000 who work flexibly — has revoked the working from home privileges of around 200 staff in front-line customer service roles its IT services division.

A BT spokesman said the move was aimed at improving service and support for BT Global Services customers. However, he added the company is still committed to supporting and enabling flexibility and homeworking.