Group of UK’s major employers urges widespread uptake of flexible working

flexible workingSome of the UK’s largest companies are jointly spearheading the call for the greater uptake of flexible working. On Monday, the 22 companies that make up the Agile Future Forum highlighted the role that factors such as new technology, changing demographics and globalisation are having on the business case for the adoption of agile working practices. Firms such as John Lewis, ITV, Ford, Tesco, Lloyds, BT and B&Q are championing the cause of agile working as a way of running a business that is competitive, productive, attractive to employees and able to compete on the world stage. The AFF, set up by former Lloyds chairman Sir Win Bischoff, used the event to publish its latest research to highlight the ways in which it believes the UK is one of the best-placed countries to foster flexible working in spite of a range of recalcitrant and restrictive working practices. The event cited a recent CBI survey which found that while 97 per cent of UK businesses agree that agility is key to growth, many still offer a limited range of flexible working practices.

The AFF claims that the introduction of agile allows employees to work outside the office and organisation to outsource roles which can save it more than a tenth of the cost of employing staff, and improve productivity.

Adam Crozier, chief executive of ITV, said: “Becoming agile is about ensuring your sustainability as a business. An agile business is better equipped to manage the challenges of today’s global market place, from attracting and retaining the best talent to taking advantage of advances in technology to reducing costs.”

Permanent Secretary to the Treasury Sir Nicholas MacPherson added that the UK is in a “strong position to take the global lead” on establishing an agile workforce that benefits business as well as the UK economy.“A collaborative effort between business, government and policy makers is required to ensure that we maximise the value that we know agility can deliver to our economy. The AFF has a key role to play in facilitating and supporting the organisations as they transition from traditional models of work to those based on agility.”

Simon Collins, managing partner of KPMG, said that while many businesses are starting to make progress with agile working, there is still much more to do. “The model on which most businesses are based needs to change in order to maximise the benefits of agility. This is the purpose of the AFF – to support organisations to transform the way we work in a way that benefits businesses as well as employees, shareholders, customers and the wider economy.”