According to a survey of 1000 London commuters the London tube strikes earlier in the year cost businesses over £1.5 million and the same figure in lost working hours.
In today’s technologically driven world, is it acceptable that UK businesses are willing to lose this much time, money and productivity by tying people to their desks? Isn’t it about time that all businesses had more flexible working initiatives in place and not just the young startup organisations?
From June 2014 every employee received the right to request flexible working after 26 weeks of employment service and businesses should capitalise on this to attract new talent and maintain productivity in times where transport, weather and family responsibilities restrict employees getting to the office on time. Flexible working shouldn’t be feared, it should be seen as beneficial to businesses and organisations.
The new workforce of Millennials which will be appearing in an interview room near you soon will have a different view to working hours than the traditional nine to five mentality. This will be in addition to the 400,000 working mums that will have children starting primary school in September and who are increasingly struggling with after-school care. Embracing a flexible working culture can help fill the skills gap in organisations.
What’s to gain?
Some of the key advantages to adopting flexible working include:
- Employees take less sick leave
- Employees have better job satisfaction and more loyalty to the business
- Businesses reduce costs and extract more from their employees who leverage their personal devices – smart phones/tablets/laptops – to work remotely and stay connected with the business
The competition for uncovering new talent is relentless and many businesses are looking abroad to find the necessary skills needed to survive and thrive. Established businesses need to compete with the thousands of trendy new startups that seem to appear every year in East London’s Tech City – and flexible working is an easy to implement tactic to attract and retain the best talent.
Bridging the Skills Gap
With reports in October identifying that over a million small businesses in the UK do not have the necessary skills to prosper in the digital era – businesses need to act fast or risk the future success of their business.
The Government obviously heard the warning message and is helping to plug the gap with the digital divide, pledging £5m to increase the digital skills for young Londoners to access jobs in the capital’s technology sector.
However, more can be done from businesses in both the Public and Private sectors to help bridge the digital divide and ensure the that UK continues to develop technological innovations. We explore this in more depth in our blog Bridging the Digital Skills Gap in the UK Public Sector.