‘Flexible working’ could boost UK economy by £90bn

213

Adopting flexible working initiatives could add £90bn to the UK economy, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research — and save £7.1bn in commuting costs

Embracing the growing demand for flexible working could add £90bn to the UK economy, a new report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) has found.

The Cebr, commissioned by the mobile workspace solutions company Citrix, reached this “best case scenario” based on a survey of 1,272 Britons.

The study found that 83pc of knowledge workers, which the Cebr defines as “thinking jobs” such as engineers, lawyers and doctors, would use flexible working options if they were available, which could add £11.5bn — or 0.7pc of GDP — to the UK economy through the improved use of employees’ time.

Additionally, seven in 10 people who are currently unemployed because they are retired, disabled, a carer or a stay-at-home parent said they would be inclined to start working if they could do so flexibly, such as working from home or clocking in outside of usual office hours. This workforce reshuffle could add £78.5bn to the economy, adding 4.7pc to GDP.

Jacqueline de Rojas of Citrix called for “a mentality shift” among British businesses and said, “It is time to move on from judging workers on how long they spend at their desks to evaluating them on the work they actually deliver.”

She added: “Those that choose not to enable workplace mobility will lose out in the war for talent.”

The study also found that flexible working could cut 533m hours a year in commuting time, saving British employees an annual £3.8bn, which rises to £7.1bn when the commuter value of time is taken into account.

A change in UK law as of this summer means that employees who have been in their jobs more than 26 weeks are now allowed to ask their employers for a change in work patterns without having to give a reason.

The Government has said that the move will hopefully rid offices of the “cultural assumption” that flexible working is an option only for carers and parents, making workplaces “fit for the 21st century”.

However, a recent YouGov poll of 2,000 Britons suggests that there is still work to be done in changing workplace norms.

While nine in 10 forms offer some sort of flexible working arrangement, the survey found that 42pc of respondents feel uncomfortable asking their employer about changing their work schedule.

The YouGov poll, which was commissioned by the CBI, found no significant differences between the answers from male and female respondents, showing that flexible working is not just “a mum’s issue”.

Speaking at a roundtable discussion on the matter last month, CBI deputy director-general Katja Hall said: “Flexible working is not asking for a favour.”

SHARE