Flexible working on the increase, says CBI report

Almost half (46%) of all UK employers now offer their staff the option of working from home, according to the latest CBI/Pertemps Employment Trends Survey released today. This is a significant increase from 14% that did so two years ago and the 11% in 2004. 

The CBI’s survey of 513 organisations employing over one million staff, highlights a growing trend in employers offering flexible working benefits, notably term-time working and job sharing. Almost all (93%) of the employers asked offer at least one form of flexible working, and 57% offer at least three.

John Cridland, CBI deputy director-general, said: “The boundaries of the traditional nine to five in the office or on the shop floor are becoming more and more blurred. Employers are embracing the benefits of flexible working, even as the economy heads into more uncertain times,” he said.

Employers cited troublesome commuting, poor transport infrastructure and reducing carbon emissions as the main reasons why staff might take up the offer of ‘teleworking’. The report also said that bosses believe that productivity need not suffer while staff are working outside of the office.

The survey, conducted in partnership with recruitment agency Pertemps, also showed that 81% of employers were willing to postpone workers’ retirement if requested, an increase of 9% from 2007. Although the number of requests accepted is high, it remains significantly lower than the 95% of requests from parents that were granted.

Cridland said that many workers at retirement age (31% in the last year) will ask to postpone retirement in order to remain financially stable. But, as he explains, flexible retirement may have benefits for the employer, too.

“Many older workers do not want to retire, or do not feel financially secure enough to do so, particularly with the downturn of the housing market. In the majority of cases employers are happy to retain older staff, who often have invaluable skills and experience,” he said.

The survey also revealed a real concern among employers about other areas of employment law. Two thirds (64%) of bosses expressed a worry that stringent employment regulation was ‘endangering’ the labour market flexibility which has been crucial to business success in recent years.