Flexible working constrained by failure to incentivise off-peak travel, claims Government report

Could flexible working helpNew research from the UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) has revealed how a simple change in the price structure of rail tickets could allow increased flexible working and better manage the current rush hour crush on public transport. The study, carried out by IFF Research, claims that two thirds of organisations could increase the scope for flexible working if the price of off-peak season tickets were reduced. The report claims that, at present, employers have little or no incentive to accommodate more flexible working but that if the cost of travel was reduced outside of peak travel times so that commuters felt a significant financial benefit, then two-thirds of the organisations that took part in the study, ‘felt that they would be able to accommodate at least some staff travelling to work avoiding the centre of the peak’.

The report concludes that the impetus for flexible working comes primarily from employees themselves:  “Employers see limited business benefits from flexible working, so are unlikely to actively encourage it,” say the report’s authors. “Any increases are therefore more likely to be led by employees. The suggested ticketing scenarios could produce the impetus to increase flexible working. The sectors that are most likely to accommodate increases in flexible working (either from this or in response to other factors) are the public/third sector and ‘other’ sector. A quarter of rail commuters work in the public sector.”