Flexible working contributes £37bn to the UK economy annually. However, this could be doubled if companies rolled out more flexible working options, according to the findings of new research, shared exclusively with City A.M. this morning.
The report, by research firm Pragmatix Advisory 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.
In fact, refusals to accommodate flexible working requests costs businesses £2bn a year, the report found, complementing a separate report from Durham Business School from earlier this month, which found that parents who are denied flexibility tend to be less productive.
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 announced plans for a four-day week for staff yesterday.
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 next year.