A new study from the Lancaster University Work Foundation revealed that over half of UK businesses are likely to offer flexible working opportunities in 2017.

Every UK worker who has been with a company for at least six months is entitled to request a change to their working arrangements, but it has only been two years since the law was changed to allow all workers to request flexible working, not just individuals with care responsibilities.

As more and more workers wake up to the benefits of flexible working, businesses will now need to adapt to these changes. There are only eight reasons a business can reject a flexible working request, and all requests have to be given due attention, they cannot simply be rejected outright. Failure to take these requests seriously can lead to serious legal action.

By 2020, over 70% of the UK workforce is likely to offer flexible and mobile working opportunities

As part of the report, “Working Anywhere: A Winning Formula For Good Work?” researchers surveyed 500 managerial level employees from a range of medium to large businesses. The report highlighted interesting trends and norms within businesses.

Of those resistant to flexible working, 37% believed that flexible working would lead to longer hours while 28% were concerned that it would prevent them from seeing their colleague’s work. It’s also interesting to note that flexible working wouldn’t be suited to all businesses, as 24% reported that their work would have to take place on-site.

Whatever your thoughts on flexible working, it is becoming an increasingly important part of UK employment law. By 2020, over 70% of the UK workforce is likely to offer flexible and mobile working opportunities, so now would be the best time to make those all important changes to hiring practice and HR policies. Deciding what works best for your business as an early adopter is far more likely to help companies to attract and retain the best talent, rather than constantly playing catch-up.

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