Four out of five companies offer flexi-working

Over 80 per cent of UK firms now offer employees flexible working options, a new study has found; although nearly 38 per cent of businesses only extend the privilege to senior members of staff.

Whilst the study by workplace provider Regus - which questioned around 4,000 companies - highlights that flexible working is fast becoming the norm, it was cited that trust was as a key issue in deciding whether to offer staff flexible working options.

Nearly a quarter also stated that flexi-working was crucial in achieving business scalability during a time of cautious spending in the wake of the UK recession.

According to the study, companies that embrace flexible working practices - which can incorporate flexible working hours and/or location - gained major benefits; with 55 per cent of those surveyed saying it cut business costs when compared to conventional, fixed office working, and 40 per cent seeing improved staff productivity.

67 per cent of businesses said that allowing staff the option to work flexible hours or from outside the office location made for a better work-life balance in their staff, was 'more family friendly', and made staff more motivated.

The study also points to the recruitment benefits of mobile and home working, claiming that flexibility allows businesses access to a wider talent pool and attracts more experienced staff. With petrol prices at a record high, and UK employers expected to face increased pressure to help commuters reduce monthly transport costs, it is believed that more attention will now be focused on the advantages on remote working.

Celia Donne, regional director at Regus, said: "That flexible work has become the norm is good news all round: from employer to employee, from families to wider society and the environment."

"However, by basing the right to flexibility on seniority, some firms are missing huge opportunities and may even alienate new talent that they may have gone to a great effort to attract."

"It is disappointing to still see some companies letting trust issues hold them back from flexi-working for all employees. It is encouraging, though, that a good proportion of firms see the advantages, even if they are not doing it at the moment, we can expect further growth in flexible working over the decade."

Donne added that the Government still needed to do more to encourage employers to promote flexible working, after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced in 2010 that 'every employer should champion flexible working.'