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UK loves flexible working - but not managing productivity

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4th Jul 2010
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UK businesses are embracing flexible working policies, yet are risking the bottom line due to a lack of time and attendance systems to effectively manage productivity, says a survey.

A survey of 50 HR professionals carried out by Amano UK found that 98% of respondents were in favour of their business adopting flexible working practices. Furthermore, 58% stated that their organisation had fully embraced the ethos of flexible working and currently offered their employees more than the statutory minimum required. Yet almost half of respondents (46%) have no time and attendance system in place to manage flexible working policies, putting both productivity levels and the bottom line of the business at risk.

Evidently, the working-life balance of modern businesses is changing as employers become more engaged with the culture of flexible working and the benefits it can bring to their business. More than one third of respondents (36%) offered five or more flexible working policies to employees, with remote working ranking as the most popular policy in place (76%). Policies to enable time off in lieu (70%) and flexitime (68%) are also in place in the majority of UK businesses, as well as staggered hours (52%), job sharing (36%) and term time working (32%).

However, the survey found that this increasingly modern attitude to flexible working is not accompanied by the advanced technology that can be used to effectively manage these policies. A majority of respondents are lacking the necessary time and attendance systems to manage flexible working, despite the growing need for improved efficiency, productivity and cost control in UK businesses.

Almost half - 46% of respondents - say they have no time and attendance system in place to manage flexible working policies, while 18% depend on outdated paper-based systems. 14% use simple clocking on and off machines, while another 14% use online timesheets. Only 2% of respondents use a more advanced software system that can integrate with payroll and other business functions.

Amano UK managing director Chris O'Riordan said: "Flexible working patterns have become an increasingly important priority for UK businesses, but the necessary technology to manage this change has been left behind. When juggling the demands of complex working policies, it is crucial for businesses to possess the technological infrastructure to effectively manage the working patterns in place and ensure that they do not have a negative impact on the bottom line.

"Crucially, time and attendance software systems can help to schedule and track business output, regardless of the varying policies in place, and therefore provide a true return on investment. By investing in these systems, UK businesses can continue to embrace flexible working and confidently reap the rewards of increased productivity and an improved bottom line."

Flexible workforce management systems such as Amano’s Astrow Suite enables businesses to synchronise time and attendance, project and activity tracking, as well as holiday and overtime management. iTime is the latest web-based hosted service that enables businesses to easily and immediately manage mobile and remote workers – a pressing need for an increasingly flexible workforce.

Additionally, research from Citrix online shows that flexible working is allowing employers to be become more family-friendly. In a survey of over 3000 public and private sector employers they found that 35% of companies have adopted more mobile working habits in the past five years, 42% of companies actively encourage and enable staff to adopt mobile working, 70% of employees see access to mobility devices and applications as key to productivity and only 6% of UK organisations now actively discourage mobile/remote working.

The UK also appears to be ahead of the curve in europe with almost half of UK businesses (47%) have seen an increase in workforce mobility over the past five years, compared to 31% in France and 27% in Germany.

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