Flexible working a boon to the economy
A survey from DataSolutions has found that flexible working not only provides workers with better work/life balance, but increased productivity and extra working hours contribute an estimated €2.5 billion to the economy.
The survey results show that 42% of flexible workers are willing to work extra hours each week, with a potential benefit of €827 million to the economy each year. Of those workers, nearly two thirds (61%) would be willing to work up to eight hours extra a week, remotely. The majority of knowledge workers (86%) maintain that flexible working drives productivity and increases output.
An interesting finding from the survey was that for those knowledge workers who are currently unemployed or economically inactive, would be more encouraged to return to work if remote working conditions were available. The majority (71%) of unemployed or economically inactive individuals want to re-enter the workforce, and represent a potential €1.64 billion gain for the economy, according to the survey.
The ability to work from any location would allow 84% of unemployed or economically inactive individuals to return to work.
Flexible working also improves employee work-life balance and allows employees to be happier in their job. The overwhelming majority of respondents (91%) said flexible working positively affects their ability to manage personal and professional commitments while more than two thirds (68%) agreed that it makes them happier. The findings show that flexible working would provide an additional 2.8 hours of leisure time per person per week.
“The results,” said Michael O’Hara, managing director, Data Solutions, “are extremely interesting as they have thoroughly shot down misconceptions associated with flexible working. Instead, we can clearly see the huge benefits of flexible working to the individual, the organisation and to the Irish economy.
“What is concerning is the high number of workers who are aware of the option of flexible working, but who do not utilise it. Given the potential savings, earnings and monetary gains to be made in this area, companies clearly need to review their flexible and mobile working arrangements and ensure they are getting the most out of them.
“Irish businesses and Irish business leaders have an exciting opportunity ahead to further contribute to the economy, improve the work-life balance of employees and gain from flexible working,” said O’Hara.
The survey was commissioned by Data Solutions and carried out by the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School Marketing Development Programme. It was carried out in March 2015 via face-to-face interviews among 200 knowledge workers, 20 HR managers in companies that employ knowledge workers and 50 unemployed workers. ‘Knowledge workers’ refers to those whose main capital is knowledge and includes accountants, engineers, architects and doctors. Unemployed and inactive workers include students, home-makers, disabled and retired.
The full results of the survey will be presented and discussed at the .Next Computing Forum, in October.