Flexible working ‘cuts cost to employers’, say business leaders

WRITTEN BY Sally-Ann White ON 24 June 2013

The Times reported today that a group of 22 of Britain’s biggest companies, the “Agile Future Forum”, have signed a commitment to flexible working rights after finding that “agility” in staff hours and locations can cut workforce costs by as much as 13%.

Richard Nissen, the founder of The Virtual Office, is also a guest lecturer at Cass Business School.  For the past 10 years he has been championing the value of virtual working including the cost benefit to employers when they are not housing staff everyday in physical office space.

However the emphasis is not the cost savings but the terminology used to define the working style.

The 22 bosses argue that while 96% of companies assessed were already offering some degree of “flexible working” the term has gained a bad reputation for being “a benefit for employees and a cost for employers”. They add: “This runs contrary to our experience: if implemented successfully by business leaders, workforce agility can offer sustainable business performance and engaged employees.”

The aim of this research was to ascertain whether “a business case could be made” for less structured working patterns.

According to Sir Win Bischoff, leader of the Agile Future Forum it can. “There is evidence of cost savings on one hand and revenue enhancements on the other.”

It is hoped that this report will raise awareness of the economic benefits of agile working.

The Agile Future Forum has also devised a specific assessment tool to help companies test and measure the value of new practises and will run seminars and workshops to help small, medium and large companies overhaul working practices.

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The report’s stats:

  • benefits equivalent to 3% to 13% of workforce costs, with potential to increase that by a further 3% to 7%
  • some instances, sales uplift to 11%
  • Accountancy giant KPMG saved £4.7m during the recession by offering flexible working hours to staff rather than making redundancies
  • Law firm Eversheds, said 28pc of staff reported increased productivity when they gave staff freedom over their working models.