Half of all firms refuse flexible working

Just one in 10 companies will allow workers to watch key Olympic Games events on television at work or online and half are denying any flexible working practices.

Research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) shows that 48% of employers are not making changes to their working practices during the Games.  The research included firms in the capital who have been urged to take the expected travel disruption into account.

Only 30% of employers say they will try and accommodate requests from employees to work from home, 17% intend to extend flexible working opportunities and just 13% will actively encourage staff to work from home to help them avoid transport disruption.

The results suggest a significant number of private sector employers are refusing to respond to growing demand for more flexible working from employees, who increasingly want to be judged on "output" not on where they work.  Research studies have shown that  employees with greater flexibility over their working hours are happier and more productive.

Some employrs are using the Olympics as an opportunity to test new and innovative ways of working but the CIPD survey suggests that a significant number of firms are yet to be convinced of the merits of flexible work patterns.

The CIPD has warned that workplaces who ban watching key events or refuse to allow staff to watch the Games online risk damaging staff motivation and moral.

Research adviser at CIPD Rebecca Clake said: "Options such as flexi-time and home working can enable employees in parts of the country likely to face travel disruption as a result of the Olympics to spend their time working rather than stuck in traffic jams or adding to the pressure likely to be faced by our public transport system.

"Of course some employers, for example, those providing public transport, will face additional demands during the Olympics and will have to manage their workforces carefully to ensure there are sufficient staff to deliver services."

Barney Ely, director at Hays Human Resources said businesses that embraced flexible working would boost staff morale and engagement. He said that the Olympics was ‘a golden opportunity’ for UK businesses to review their flexible working policies and that by embracing the opportunities, companies could benefit from more engaged employees.

Rebecca Clake also warned that firms who refuse to consider flexible working take the risk that workers may turn up to work hung over or call in sick to watch crucial Games.  She also advised firms to remind staff of their policy on absence and alcohol misuse.

She said: "It is of course also unacceptable to turn up to work so hung over that you are incapable of doing any work. Employers should make clear there are disciplinary consequences for taking unauthorised time off without good reason or not performing or misbehaving at work."

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