How much of an impact could flexible work really make on the public sector? According to an in-depth report from think tank RSA and Vodafone UK, the alternative work concept could drive £1.4 billion in cost savings and productivity gains per year.
Dubbed The Flex Factor, the report reveals that employees estimate gains of five productive hours per week, on average, through better ways of working. That adds up to about £4,200 per employee per year. So what are the UK’s public sectors waiting for?
While the report shows central government organizations are high adopters of flexible working, 11 percent of public sector employees who want to work flexibly aren’t being offered the chance. The report reveals that better ways of working are a key driver of productivity, performance and organizational innovation as well as employee satisfaction and wellbeing. This, the report concludes, offers tangible evidence that personal and performance benefits are closely linked.
A Call to Invest in Flexible Work
The Flex Factor challenges the private, public and voluntary sectors to invest in better ways of working to reduce costs and optimize space, time and resources.
“The public sector is well positioned to lead by example and needs to go further in driving forward better ways of working. The Flex Factor shows that there’s an overwhelming economic case to do this as a focus on strategic flexible working can deliver huge savings to the public purse,” says Jeroen Hoencamp, Enterprise Director at Vodafone UK.
“While great strides have been made in central government departments, more public sector bodies need to adopt a new mind-set. Flexible working isn’t just working from home. A culture change is needed and these findings reveal, with an optimized approach, the public sector can overcome any downsides and greatly increase efficiency and productivity as well as help reduce the deficit.”
Flexible Work Statistics Abound
Adopting better ways of working accounts for 5 percent of organizational performance and is linked with better use of employee skills, innovation and personal productivity. By harnessing this potential, the report concludes, the UK economy could become more competitive, innovative and effective.
- Closing the flexibility gap has a potential net value of £8.1 billion to the UK economy, once costs are taken into consideration.
- Productive hours gained: £6.9bn net potential gain per year (based on allowing the 13 percent of all sector employees who want to work flexibly right now to do so, and a conservatively estimated 50 percent implementation cost)
- Workstation and printing savings: £1.2bn per year (based on closing the 13 percent adoption gap, with an 11 percent reduction in office time, meaning reduced workstation and print overheads, at a conservatively estimated 50 percent implementation cost)
- 77% of employees work in organizations that offer flexible working, of which half have formalized their practices
- 31% of public sector employees are allowed flexibility with their working hours
- Investment in computing hardware and software is driving flexible working, enabling people to connect with colleagues, knowledge and ideas quickly and effectively wherever they are and whenever they need to
- 46% of employers provide their employees with access to a work laptop, one in four employers provide a smartphone and one in ten are now providing tablet computers
“Across the public sector intensive efforts are being made, as part of the Coalition government’s deficit reduction program, to drastically reduce spending while minimizing the impact on key services,” says Julian Thompson, director of Enterprise at the RSA.
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“Our findings show a strong link between the adoption of flexible working and service quality, as these working practices drive innovation and better utilization of skills. In addition to enhancing existing services, this is vital if the public sector is going to find innovative approaches to tackling the mounting pressures and demands it faces, with limited resources. Enabling people to work flexibly can make a significant difference to our country’s economic and social prosperity, both now and in the future.”Share this article