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Flexible working: Falling out of fashion

 Image credit: <a href='https://www.123rf.com/photo_8784138_young-attractive-female-fashion-designer-working-at-office-desk-drawing-while-talking-on-mobile.html'>nyul / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Just as ACAS concludes its consultation on flexible working, the practice has been declared démodé by none other than Alexandra Shulman, the editor of British Vogue. Writing in response to the recent news that Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer ordered the company’s 11,500 staff back to the office, the Vogue editor has argued that working from home is not an adequate alternative to showing your face in the workplace. Ms Mayer goes on to note that in a creative environment, important opportunities are missed when absent colleagues are tottering, undressed around their kitchens. The best stories, she says, arise from chance remarks, gossip and jokes between colleagues working alongside each other. More →

UK workers’ real wages have fallen furthest

pay squeeze

British workers have seen the biggest fall in wage value among the world’s wealthiest countries, according to a TUC report on the global economic race published today. Between 2007 and 2011 – real wages fell by 4.5 per cent in the UK, falling at nearly twice the rate of Spain – the next worst-performing economy that year.  However, as we reported last month lower wages appear to be contributing to higher employment rates in the UK compared to countries where pay rates are higher, such as Spain and Italy.

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UK building sector contracts again but there may be light at end of tunnel

Canary Wharf buildingsThe UK’s construction sector has continued its recent pattern of contraction according to the latest survey of the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) from Markit/CIPS UK. The last month’s index, published earlier today, showed at 46.8, where a figure below 50 indicates a decline in activity, marking the most significant monthly downturn since October 2009. The fall is the fourth consecutive monthly fall although there was a contrast between the commercial sector which endured the biggest drop and residential building which rose slightly.

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Are you working or shirking from home?

Staff ill health

During recent weather-related travel disruption, I was inundated with various pieces of information on software that spies on home based employees to check that they really are working, not shirking from home. As Acas opens a consultation on a draft Code of Practice regarding the extended right to request flexible working; and figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show the number of people working from home in the UK has risen to over 10 per cent – the advent of these systems begs the question: do employers really trust their staff enough to let them work remotely?

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Yahoo is not the only firm that doesn’t like flexible working

Yahoo! Sunnyvale headquarters.  October 28, 2001 (Y! Photo / Brian McGuiness)As news emerged over the weekend from Silicon Valley that Yahoo had introduced a new policy that insisted employees work from the company’s HQ, a survey from O2 in the UK highlighted just how many firms are not as keen on the practice of flexible working as they might claim in theory. The question we need to ask is whether this represents a genuine shift away from the assumption that we are moving towards more agile working practices, or is this just the last knockings of the old guard?

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What gets measured in the workplace, gets managed

MeasureAre we finally seeing the first signs of the end of the downturn?  Earlier this week the Government announced that UK unemployment had fallen. While I know there have been quibbles about what this all meant, other data from specific market sectors backs up the idea that we may be seeing some tentative causes for hope.  One of the most heartening was last week’s survey from Randstad which reported growing levels of optimism among financial services firms about their prospects and the fact that the majority would be increasing headcount this year.

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Flexible working seen as of more benefit to employers than staff

Flexible working

Nine in ten UK professionals think that flexible working will become the dominant employment model – but half think it will be adopted for business reasons rather than to benefit the workforce. According to research from specialist HR recruiter Ortus, just one in ten professionals (12 per cent) actually deem flexible working to be a vital benefit – lower than the proportion who said a free company mobile phone is vital to them. And just 1 in 10 said they thought it was being implemented to help with gender equality. In the survey conducted among 450 professionals across a variety of sectors, 51 one per cent felt the reason behind the growth of flexible working is efficiency and productivity – not to help people manage the number of hours they work. More →

Work-life balance proposals could cause employers to wobble

flexible work

Employment experts have raised concerns on the impact on employers of the Children and Families Bill, announced by the government this week, which introduces shared parental leave and extends the right to request flexible working to all employees. The idea behind the reforms is to give parents greater flexibility about how they ‘mix and match’ care of their child but Jonathan Exten-Wright, Partner from DLA Piper said: “Employers would no doubt welcome further guidance on how the new shared leave should operate in practice.”

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Commercial sector bucks downward UK construction trend

Construction figsConstruction business activity fell by the third month running in January, with new orders at slowest pace since October 2012 according to the latest Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI). There were some reports that snowfall had contributed to reduced output volumes, but the majority of respondents cited weak underlying client demand and a lack of new projects.  However commercial activity was the only sub-sector to buck the wider downward trend in output during January with the latest data indicating unchanged volumes of commercial activity, ending five months of contraction. More →

Employers overlook flexible working alternative to redundancy

Flexible

Only 22 per cent of UK managers believe their companies are very effective at redeploying employees rather than making redundancies. And according to new global research it’s a worldwide problem, with almost three in ten employers believing their organisations are “not effective”. Mark Hodgson, practice leader of Talent Management in Right Management UK & Ireland said: “The results suggest that businesses aren’t seeing redeployment as a feasible way of making savings and keeping staff. Businesses can’t afford to underestimate the importance of a flexible workforce in this tough economic climate.” More →

Happiness levels in UK workplaces growing, says Government.

smiley faceThe general level of satisfaction in the UK’s workplaces has increased significantly in spite of ongoing economic uncertainty according to a report from the Government published yesterday. The study of more than 21,000 employees, found that job satisfaction levels actually increased in 2012 with a fifth (20 per cent) of employees either ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with all aspects of their job, compared to just 16 per cent in 2004 when the survey last appeared. The report also showed that levels of commitment to individual employers had also increased over the same period, with the proportion of employees who said they shared the values of their organisation up from 55 per cent to 65 per cent. More →

Global Gen Y survey highlights national differences

Gen Y NotNever has a generation of humans been so much talked about as Generation Y. As this millennial army marches into the world’s workplaces and takes the reins of power (or at least control) for the first time, there has been a lot of agonising about how to manage a whole generation of people who are the first to have been nurtured in a digital world. Now a new report from Deloitte into the attitudes of millennials from around the world has confirmed that this is a complex generation of individuals with many universal ideals but with regional characteristics too.  More →

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