Agile working brings financial benefits, say leaders

6093396566_111c46f35f_oThe leaders of 22 of the UK’s largest businesses have today launched the Agile Future Forum (AFF), committing their companies to flexible working rights.

In a letter to the Telegraph today, leaders of businesses such as Lloyds Banking Group, ITV, BT, Ernst & Young and Tesco say agile working creates “significant and tangible financial benefits” for their businesses.

In a report by the AFF and McKinsey, also published today, the leaders claim their businesses are enjoying benefits equivalent to 3-13% of workforce costs with the potential to increase by a further 3-7% and, in some cases, a sales uplift of 11%. The forum has devised a tool to enable all companies to measure the benefits of agile working.

The leaders said flexible working has too often been seen as a benefit for employees but a cost for employers. “This runs contrary to our experience: if implemented successfully by business leaders, workforce agility can offer sustainable business performance and engaged employees.”

The group, chaired by Lloyds Banking Group chairman Sir Winfried Bischoff, was asked by deputy prime minister Nick Clegg to look at how workforce agility could be supported and spread across Britain. It found that flexible working allows business to manage fluctuations in output; while driving up quality; and attracting and retaining high quality talent, regardless of sector and company size.

For example, flexible working practices have allowed telecoms giant BT to bring jobs back to the UK from India at competitive terms – this is expected to result in 500 jobs and business benefits of £30m in three years, said the report.

The report outlined five ‘golden rules’ to successfully running an agile workforce. These include: leading from the top rather than leaving it to HR; creating a bridge between the needs of the workforce and the employees; implementing changes from the bottom up; considering big strategic changes; and giving the management team the right tools and training to implement the changes.

The group will now run seminars and conferences across the UK to spread information on agile working. It will also seek to recruit more chief executives to the forum.

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