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Annie Hayes



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The future’s female and 50 plus


What kind of boss is best able to cope with new, flexible working practices? The answer, according to research for BT is females over the age of 50.

The research comes as the RAC Foundation becomes the latest organisation to support Work Wise UK, the five-year Government-backed initiative which promotes the widespread adoption of smarter working practices, such as flexible working, mobile working, remote working and working from home.

The RAC Foundation is supporting the campaign as it believes any change in working patterns which reduces the need to travel, or staggers the time when travel occurs, will have an effect in reducing congestion on the country’s already over-congested roads. It predicts that smarter working could cut commuter traffic by up to 10 per cent within five years, saving the economy £1.9 billion.

BT’s research, conducted across the UK, found that as well as recognising the benefits of flexible working more readily than their male counterparts, female employers trust their colleagues the most to get on and do the job while employing smarter working practices.

As businesses and employees demand greater flexibility in order to thrive and safeguard a healthy work/life balance, the traditional, office-based nine-to-five work routine is increasingly outdated. However, despite this trend, men are 50 per cent more likely than women to be suspicious of colleagues who work flexibly.

Age also plays a major factor in the general acceptance and success of flexible working. Despite supposedly growing up and starting work in the most technologically advanced and modern of environments, managers aged 18-29 are the most suspicious management age group when it comes to flexible working (38 per cent), compared to 30-50 year olds (30 per cent) and the over 50s (25 per cent).

Trust was seen as the single most important skill for any employer, male or female, to exhibit whilst managing a remote workforce. According to employees surveyed, 38 per cent said it was the most important skill. This makes it almost twice as important as the ability to communicate effectively (21 per cent), and significantly more important than good organisation (14 per cent) and the ability to motivate (12 per cent).

Caroline Waters, director, People & Policy, BT said: “When it comes to making a success of flexible working, this survey throws the spotlight firmly on the importance of softer people management skills.

“The emphasis put on trust and strength of relationship between employers and employees points to the fact that women, and in particular women over 50, are the ideal management role model in this increasingly flexible business world.”

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Annie Hayes


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