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Business & Economy

North East businesses set to embrace flexible working

According to new research, 41% of middle market businesses in the North East are thinking about offering flexible working options to their employees in the next five years.

At the same time, many admit they are wary about security and management issues that these options might bring.

The survey, commissioned by RSM and carried out by YouGov, questioned 350 firms up and down the UK about their plans for offering staff the chance to work outside of traditional 9-to-5 business hours or remotely from the office.

Not all the region’s businesses are looking to switch things up, however: a quarter said they were satisfied with their current flexible work policies, while 5% indicated they had no plans to offer such an arrangement in the near future.

Firms were also questioned about the benefits they thought flexible working was bringing to their operation.

The top perk highlighted was a boost in efficiency, which 64% of businesses said they’d experienced since introducing the option. 60% reported an improvement in productivity and 54% said their workers were more engaged.

However, the region’s firms didn’t have complete faith in offering a flexible working arrangement, with many expressing concerns about risks that could arise. The most prominent worry was IT security (32%), followed by a potential failings in customer service (26%) and a negative impact on team dynamics (25%).

Carolyn Brown, employment lawyer and head of RSM Client Legal Services, said: “Employers are becoming much more enlightened about the beneficial impact that flexible working arrangements can have on productivity, engagement and efficiency.

“Some larger employers are leading the way by offering employees much greater control over their working times and working patterns, and it’s highly likely that others will follow suit.”