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One third want flexible working

A third of UK employees want flexible working (35 per cent to be exact), says a report from facilities management and building maintenance specialist Direct 365, but there isn’t much clarity about whether it’s going to suit a particular business.

There isn’t much help in legislation, with the law saying employees can ask for flexible working if they can make a business case; it was news to us that you needed the law behind you to make a reasonable request if there was a business case. Nonetheless in June 2014 employees were given the “right to request” flexible working.

This year, Flexible Working Awareness Day is on Friday (6 May) and Direct 365 is urging people to consider all of the benefits. “It’s not uncommon for someone to be sat at their desk all on their own for an entire day because the rest of their team are either working from home or have been given permission to switch their hours. Technological advancements have made communication easy, but you really shouldn’t underestimate the importance of face-to-face contact. We’re in danger of losing good old-fashioned ‘watercooler talk’!” said Phil Turner, head of digital at Direct365.

There are issues to address, of course. First, some organisations insist on employees working from home one day a week, which isn’t actually flexible, it’s still telling people where and when they should work. Second, so many people understand “flexible working” to mean “home working” when it might not – the office can be the right place to work depending on the task and the employee.

Acting editor Guy Clapperton is co-author of “The Smarter Working Manifesto