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August 17, 2012

An Olympic legacy — employees get a taste for flexible working

More than half of workers in London and the Home Counties want to work flexibly on a more regular basis since changing their working arrangements during the 2012 Olympic Games, according to a new poll on behalf of Vodafone UK.

Almost a quarter of employees adopted flexible working practices during the Games, according to the survey, and this proved to be good for productivity in most cases.

Of those who changed their working arrangements, nearly three-quarters said they had worked more productively as a result of the change. They reported that their productivity had increased thanks mainly to fewer distractions and disruptions (34%) and less time spent commuting (32%).

A much smaller share (24%) felt that they had become less productive, identifying distractions and disruptions (15%) as the most important reason for this, alongside concerns around technology, systems and information access.

Peter Boucher, commercial marketing director at Vodafone UK, said: "It is not surprising that the events of the last two weeks are emerging as a turning point in the way Britain is working. For employers and their staff, this has been a 'taster' for a different way of doing business. Many will have found that this can be just as effective — and often more so — than the traditional 9-5 at your office desk."

Employers' attitudes to flexible working also appear to have undergone a change — while 30% of all respondents said their employer already allowed flexible working, another 23% felt that their bosses would now be more open to such practices. However, another quarter (23%) of workers said that the experience had not made their employers more open-minded toward flexible working.

One of the key issues identified in the report is resources — just 48% of respondents said they had been given all the equipment needed to work effectively away from the office. And 19% of respondents used their own hardware to work remotely.

Peter Boucher said: "With the cost of mobile and broadband technologies coming down and initiatives such as 'bring your own device' (BYOD) offering further cost and management advantages, there are fewer and fewer reasons for businesses to tie staff to their office chair."