It’s what employees want

Recent research conducted by Smarter Working Hub shows that 67% of employees wish they were offered flexible working, 56% of commuters feel stressed or flustered at least once a month, 70% of workers feel that offering flexible working makes a job more attractive to them and over half of people believe managers need to adapt their skills to manage a remote workforce. (Smarter Working Hub available from:

Recruitment and retention

According to Wasp Barcode’s annual State of Small Business Report, 50% of small businesses say hiring new employees is the top challenge they face. It’s the number one challenge for businesses with fewer than 499 employees, which is much more than traditionally-mentioned challenges, such as increasing profits and cashflow (

The biggest benefit to businesses is that flexible working practices will help to recruit and retain experienced staff. Offering flexible hours widens the talent pool. Flexible practices also increase commitment and loyalty of staff members.

The parent ‘pool’

‘Parents’ represent a great pool of talent but are ignored by many businesses. According to The Guardian: 40% of managers avoid hiring younger women to get around the issue and costs of maternity leave: ‘The cost of maternity leave is too high and women 'aren't as good at their jobs' when they return’; according to a survey of 500 managers (

The tendency to overlook this segment can lead to discrimination, including the notion that a woman returning from a maternity break is not fully committed to work and/or cannot keep up with workloads. With the ‘Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination’ Act in place, this has partly helped parents in work but has also somewhat contributed to the avoidance of employing this workforce pool.

It works for businesses as well as employees

Flexible working is a way of working that is tailored to suit the employee's needs, without compromising productivity, and is an alternative to traditional set working hours. It could include working from home, flexible start and finish times, job sharing and many other options. Businesses should not view it as a challenge but rather an opportunity. According to the recent report by Breathing Space, it is likely to be the main way of working for more than 70% of employers by 2020. Every business needs to develop flexible working practices and understand how it can benefit their business and support their employees. It is about developing modern working practices to fit the needs of the 21st century employees (

A Taskforce report highlights the benefits of flexible working for businesses, families, older workers, carers and a growing population who want a better balance between work and home life and, in the current business climate, there is an even stronger case for adapting flexible working practices. (

The evidence

According to the Taskforce report, businesses using remote working are: