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Support for flexible working continues post-Olympics, according to employers' survey

Nearly half of the companies that tried out flexible working practices during the Olympics are likely to continue operating those schemes, according to a survey of employers.

The Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) said that 43% of companies that ran flexible working schemes, such as allowing staff to work from home or change their working hours, planned to continue to do so

The professional body questioned over 1,000 managers on the impact of the Games on productivity and morale in the workplace. Although only 18% of its members tried out new ways of working during the  earlier this month, 76% disagreed with Mayor of London Boris Johnson's comments before the Olympics that home working would be a "skiver's paradise". 16% of respondents to the survey were based in London, the ILM said.

65% of respondents to the survey said that the event had been less disruptive than expected; with half indicating that it had had "no impact" on their companies. Almost half of the respondents said that the Games had boosted office morale, while four in ten surveyed firms allowed staff to watch events in the office.

"It is encouraging to find that businesses took the opportunity to trial flexible working practices and those that did found it far from being a 'skiver's paradise' – their people were productive and motivated," ILM chief executive Charles Elvin said. "We hope that organisations continue to offer more flexible working which, when properly managed, is a powerful motivator and helps to attract and retain talent."

He added that the Paralympic Games would provide "another opportunity for businesses that didn't trial flexible working during the Olympics" to do so.

In May, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that more than half of employers were either considering flexible working practices or allowing staff members to watch popular events at work in the run-up to the Olympics. Three in ten of the employers surveyed said that they would try to accommodate requests by employees to work from home, while a further 13% would "actively encourage" the practice.

Christopher Mordue of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said that the suitability and benefits of flexible working would usually depend on the type of business the employer operates. Employers looking to offer or extend flexible working opportunities should plan it, set out their approach and rationale clearly and then apply it consistently in all cases, he said.

"It is a question of making sure that employees are properly equipped to work remotely, whether that's at home or at other business sites," he told HR Network TV in June. "O2 did an exercise in February where they were planning for the impact of the Olympics and had a day where staff weren't supposed to attend work at head office, they were expected to work remotely and the output of that exercise was actually an increase in productivity - employees making better use of their time than being stuck in traffic or commuting. That, I think, shows that remote working can actually have significant business benefits and maybe something that needs to be looked at beyond the Olympics itself."

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