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The UK also adopts flexible working

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Although the Netherlands and Flanders are the pioneers of flexible working in Europe, research conducted by the Action and Research Centre (RSA) in cooperation with Vodafone has revealed that flexible working has also become fully integrated on the work floors in the UK. No less than 77% of all UK employees work in organizations utilizing a form of flexible working. Approximately 50% of these organizations have effectively formalized it in employee contracts.

At Vodafone, no one has his own office space any more, not even the directors. Everyone works on laptops that can be used everywhere: at the office, at home, and even in the coffee bar. The company has seven desks for every 10 members of staff.

The RSA research can be used to justify flexible working in organisations. The researchers have calculated that on a weekly basis, personnel in flexible work positions are five hours more productive. In terms of salary, this amounts to almost £ 4,200 ($ 7600) per employee per year. Add to that savings of £ 650 ($ 1000) in office space and £ 100 ($ 155) in printing costs per employee, and it soon adds up to overall savings of more than £4950 ($ 7676) per employee per year. For the whole of Great Britain this means a staggering amount in savings of £6.9bn ($ 10.7 billion) in salaries and work hours and £1.2bn ($ 1.86 billion) in office and printing costs.

The most prevalent forms of flexible working are working from home and flexible working hours, followed by working at other locations. The adoption of flexible working is more common in smaller companies (up to 10 employees) than in medium-large (11-150 employees) and large organizations (+251). Some 53% of all employees have a positive attitude towards flexible working, while only 1 in 6 employees has a negative attitude, whereas 30% has a neutral attitude.

Insight into the characteristics of the organization and its staff is the key to the success of flexible working. These insights can be used to develop a customized approach regarding the subject. Technology is another important element. After all, this is what connects the home workers with their colleagues and with the information. 51% of all employers are still investing in traditional hardware, such as desktop computers for their staff, while 46% of all personnel use laptops provided by their organization. One in four employees is given a smartphone and one in ten is issued with a tablet. Finally, a quarter of all employees use their own equipment. One in six employers does not provide any support for their staff as far as flexible working is concerned. The researchers conclude that this delays the adoption of flexible working.

According to the researchers, the investment in a flexible infrastructure is an essential condition to ensure the growth of flexible working in the future. Employees must be enabled to work everywhere and anytime. The systems must not only be accessible 24/7, they must also be reliable. Another essential condition for making the flexible working ambition a reality is the implementation of ergonomic solutions for computer workstations.

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