The overwhelming majority of HR professionals back government moves to promote flexible working, with just over a third already having such policies in place.
According to a survey among 50 HR managers undertaken by time and attendance systems provider Amano UK, a huge 98% were in favour of their organisations going down the flexible working route, with 36% already offering five or more policies to their workforce. Just over three quarters indicated that flexible working was the most popular practice in place today.
The findings were released only a week after the government urged employers to allow staff to work one day a fortnight from home as part of its bid to reduce transport congestion.
Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrats’ transport minister, said that he believed traditional travel patterns needed to change if the UK was to become a low-carbon economy and has tasked officials with working out how to achieve the aim.
Initiatives currently being explored include incentives to encourage employers to adopt flexible working practices. Civil servants are also looking into various means of persuading train companies to overhaul how season tickets are sold in order to avoid penalising workers who only spend part of the week in the office.
Baker is likewise keen for train operators to sell carnets as well as season tickets to enable people to pay for their journeys in batches, while still enjoying the discounts offered to season ticket holders. The Department of Transport and other Whitehall departments will be expected to set an example by having staff and ministers use more videoconferencing technology in order to reduce their own levels of travel.
Baker told the Daily Telegraph: “The kind of initiatives I’m working on will do away with rush hour. Reducing demand will reduce congestion, pollution and stress in our daily lives. Working just one day in 10 from home would have a huge impact.”
Another key goal is to ease pressure on the UK’s overstretched transport network, which is bracing itself for swingeing budget cuts in the autumn following the government’s comprehensive spending review.
But such measures may face opposition from employers. According to a survey undertaken among 3,500 organisations across 14 countries by researchers the Corporate Vehicle Observatory and sponsored by fleet management firm Arval, almost half of large businesses expect their vehicle fleet to grow over the next few years due to the role company cars play as a staff recruitment and retention tool.
Because of this situation, Mike Waters, Arval’s director of market insight, said that a mere 18% of businesses had reduced their fleet size as a response to the financial crisis and only 26% had cut their overall fleet budget.
“Instead, decision-makers have recognised the important role company vehicles play in their business mix and have focused on better management of their fleet policy instead,” he added.