Flexible working increases productivity, so why aren’t we all doing it?


I’m currently listening to the audio book of Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Work Week. I have a rather long commute, so I am making short work of it. The book, which I have skim-read before (as Ferriss instructs you should do) is certainly interesting, but question springs to mind; do I really need this advice?

4 Hour Work Week is essentially a book on improving productivity. A key part of this is working remotely – an essential step in enjoying a better life, says Ferriss. I agree, and this is precisely why I ask myself if I need to continue reading. Because, at Fox Agency, we have a great company culture and approach to the way we work.

I mentioned my commute is rather long. I travel from South Lincolnshire to West Yorkshire whenever I am in the office. It’s long, but I only do it for half the week. The other half, I work from home – or the library, or coffee shop, or wherever I want to be and feel productive.

For myself, it means that I get to see my son in the morning and at night for half of the week; something I didn’t get to do before when I worked in London. For my partner, it means she can have a break from the non-stop grind, although it usually ends up that she has two messy boys to look after instead of one.

The way I work, flexible working, is a rising trend. This is in no small part due to the right to request such a policy, but also sites such as Workingmums.co.uk which are doing a great job of raising awareness. However, with news that the UK is actually dropping in productivity, I feel more can be done – and the onus is on business leaders.

I believe the problem is this: flexible working is seen by business leaders as a perk that allows parents to get home in time for dinner with the kids or to attend parents’ evening. What they do not consider – and my proof here is that most staff are still working 9-5, 5/7 sat in the office – is that flexible working increases work output, thus improving productivity.

This has been well documented. The CIPD recently reported a poll by Vodafone that showed flexible working increases company profit while an article in Inc. Magazine showed that traditional working leads to stress and the likelihood of decreased profitability. Simply put, flexible working makes more money.

So perhaps I am right that I should stop listening to 4 Hour Work Week. Perhaps instead we should be plonking the book on our bosses’ tables. We should ask them why they’re so resistant to generating more output and increasing productivity, and hopefully, just maybe, change their ways. After all, money talks.


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