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London Businesses Most Flexible – Should Wales Follow Suit to Remain Competitive?


London-based businesses are leading the way in flexible working in the UK – at least, according to new research of 2,000 working professionals from Powwownow.

The research found that London business leaders let their staff spend the most time working out of the office during an average week – 3 hours and 31 minutes, compared to the UK average of 2 hours and 34 minutes.

It also found that graduates with sought-after skills such as digital and cybersecurity expertise are the most likely to consider flexible working a main attraction of a new job, with three quarters (76%) agreeing.

While young people in London (18 – 24 year olds) are the most likely to want flexible working (85%), they are also the least likely to be offered it by businesses. Over half of young people (53%) are not proactively offered flexible working, compared to just a third (33%) of 35-44 year olds who also have to ask for it.

Nearly two thirds (60%) of employees think that being offered flexible working would enable them to work smarter and be more productive, while over half of all people surveyed (53%) think flexible working would help positively impact their relationship with colleagues.

Those working in London have the longest commutes in the UK, at an average of 1 hour 16 minutes per journey. The quickest commutes in the UK are enjoyed by the Welsh, who take an average of 57 minutes to commute back and forth to work.

Jason Downes, MD of conference call company Powwownow said;

“Companies in the UK are beginning to wake up to the fact that the brightest British talent expects different things from their employers compared to 10 years ago – namely flexible working and being graded on output not time spent in the office.

With technology so readily available, there is little other than tradition in the way of offering all employees flexible working. Although London is currently reacting to this change at the fastest pace, it will no doubt only be a matter of time before the rest of the UK comes to embrace this same approach to smarter working.”

Flexible working commentator Adrian Lewis, Commercial Director for Welsh based business Activ People HR added;

“Flexible working is definitely on the increase, because technology like Activ Absence is giving employers better visibility of staff who aren’t physically working in the office.  It is slowly extending throughout the UK – and I believe it is vital for Wales.

Despite the shorter commutes found in the survey, Wales continually suffers from serious congestion on the M4 and whilst there are good links between major cities, many remote locations have poor public transport links.  Remote working could re-energise these regions.”

“Within our own organisation, we have one member of staff who works completely from home, and all staff can request the option if they have a delivery or if they are suffering from an infectious illness.  It’s certainly something our staff appreciate – and something I hope more Welsh employers embrace.”