Workers who are offered the option of flexible working are more productive, happier and less stressed, according to a new study.
The study by the AAT compared the productivity of 1,500 workers who set their own hours or working location against 500 who are not doing so.
It found that a fifth of flexible workers enquired about workplace flexibility as soon as their very first interview for their job.
Those who worked flexibly were also more likely to opt to choose to set the hours they work – 47 per cent reported this – than choose the location they work from, which just one in five said they are flexible in. Four in 10 respondents said the option of flexible working is offered company-wide, although 15 per cent say it applied only to them personally.
The main benefits employees see from working flexibly are:
Feeling happier (said by an average of 38% of all respondents – 41% for women)
Having more time to spend with their families (said by 36% on average – 39% for women)
Feeling less stressed (said by 35% on average – 38% for women).
Olivia Hill, Chief HR Officer at AAT said: “Flexible working has a huge number of benefits for employees and employers alike. In this connected world, all many people need to work is a laptop and a stable internet connection, which can be found in many places other than the office environment.
“It seems employers are also becoming more likely to allow flexible hours as well as flexibility with location – assuming that as long as the job gets done, it doesn’t really matter when and where it happens – the most important thing is strong levels of productivity.”
Flexible workers said they felt they worked effectively for more of a typical working day than those working a traditional ‘nine-to-five’. A quarter said they work longer hours in their new flexi routine than they did when they were shackled to normal office hours, putting in an extra 6.7 hours more each week on average than they did when they were at their desks in the office. Fifteen per cent believe they are simply not as productive in a traditional working environment and 21 per cent said they are ‘much more productive’ after moving to a flexible schedule.
Half of flexible workers [52% of women] say they can never see themselves returning to a more traditional work routine. Three-quarters of flexi workers said they would be reluctant to leave their current place of work, if a new one didn’t allow the same flexibility, and 77 per cent said the option to work flexibly has encouraged them to stay at their current place of work for longer than they might have otherwise.
However, a tenth of respondents worry their colleagues think of them as work-shy for not being on hand in the office regularly. In addition 13 per cent have concerns they may be passed over for promotions or other work responsibilities, as they’re out of sight and potentially out of mind. One in five believe they have colleagues who are ‘envious’ of the work/life balance they have managed to negotiate for themselves. Some 53 per cent of women who do not work flexibly say they think they do more work than their colleagues who take advantage of flexible working, and 41 per cent said they are envious of their colleagues who work flexibly.