The £37bn that is contributed to the economy annually through flexible working could be doubled if companies roll out more hybrid working options, according to new research, shared exclusively with City A.M. this morning.
In fact, refusing to accommodate flexible working requests costs businesses £2bn a year, the report found, complementing a separate report from Durham Business School from late last year, which found that parents who are denied flexibility tend to be less productive.
The report, by research firm Pragmatix Advisory and commissioned by Sir Robert McAlpine, links flexibility to improved staff morale and productivity, forecasting that a 50 per cent increase could create 51,200 new jobs and unlock £55bn for the UK economy.
With the Government having launched a consultation to reform flexible working regulations, the study, called ‘Flexonomics’, which was commissioned by Sir Robert McAlpine and flexible working campaigner Mother Pukka, is the latest data to underscore the benefits of the arrangement.
Earlier this week, the Resolution Foundation released a report that found flexible working had helped encourage returning mothers back into the workforce, whilst Atom Bank introduced plans for a four-day week in November of last year.
Speaking to City A.M., Paul Hamer, the CEO of Sir Robert McAlpine, said: ‘The misconception that flexible working is only applicable to a select few sectors needs to change. This report demonstrates the glaring benefit to the UK economy if adopted more widely.”
Ahead of the publication of the Government’s consultation on flexible working, the report’s authors make a number of recommendations for how the working model can be extended, including mandating a right to request flexibility from day one, to ensure workers from almost every sector can work flexibly.
However, critics of the working arrangement have argued that studies in the US have shown that flexible working increases the length of the working day by up to 2.5 hours.
Anna Whitehouse, otherwise known as Mother Pukka, told City A.M. that “now we can prove that flexibility is good for business. That there’s a direct link between flexibility and profitability.”
“An uptake in flexible working will boost the UK economy, too. If we want to ‘Build Back Better’, now is the time for businesses to use flexible working as the foundation,” she added.
The results of the Government’s consultation are expected to be published early this year.