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Integrated approach needed to 'optimise' benefits of flexible working

Organisations would stand to gain on average an extra 5.1 hours of productive work time per employee if they were able to achieve an 'optimal' flexible working environment, according to a recent report. That equates to about £4,200 per year for each employee.

The figures are quoted in The Flex Factor: Realising the value of flexible working from the RSA and Vodafone, which said that other savings included £650 per employee on desk space and £100 on printing costs. Applied to the country as a whole, it said the UK's employers could save more than £8 billion. In March, Vodafone released figures claiming that British businesses could save £34 billion by freeing up desk space.

At an individual level, the report listed other benefits of flexible working such as improved focus, concentration and creativity; better work-life balance; and improved health and wellbeing.

But it warned that one-size-fits-all policies wouldn't be effective, and that organisations needed accurate performance management and evaluation systems to ensure that flexibility in the workplace remained a benefit and didn't become a 'net cost'.

The success of flexible working, it suggested, hinged on attitudes in the workplace - and whether flexibility was part of a 'progressive culture of trust and collective commitment' or a 'reactive, command and control culture' in which 'employees are forced to subvert and resist the rules to get the best deal for themselves'.

Acas can help your organisation adopt a more holistic approach to Flexible working and help create the 'optimal' environment for it to flourish. Practical training courses aimed at improving workplace relations, enhancing trust and improving communication include Skills for supervisors and others listed under Staff retention. To help you get the best from your staff, Acas also runs courses on Performance management.

Visit the Acas Training and Business Solutions page for more information.

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