A government sponsored report into flexible working hasconcluded that – within reason – SMEs can benefit from implementing flexibleworking policies.
The Flexible Working: Challenges for Business report,compiled by the All-Party Parliamentary Small Business Group (APPSBG) and theAssociation of Chartered Accountants (ACCA). Evidence submitted to the group suggested that many smallbusinesses were already using flexible working practices, but many did notunderstand their rights and responsibilities.
APPSBG chair Andy Love, MP for Edmontonin London,said: “For flexible working to succeed support needs to be given to smallbusinesses; all employment law should be designed with small business in mind.”
He added: “Many small businesses claim flexible working is aburden. The possible extension of the right to request flexible working toeveryone could put an even bigger strain on SMEs, especially when the economyis beginning to emerge from recession.”
The report identified a clear need to address the perceptionthat flexible working is a perk for working parents, and called for areorganisation of the benefits system to better support people who wish to workpart time.
Michael Davies, head of product management at UC specialistand home working advocate Viatel, supported the report’s recommendations.
“One of the keys to making home working beneficial for boththe company and employees is to focus more on the benefits that the practicecan provide,” he said. “For example, despite concern that employees may notwork as hard out of the office, organisations implementing home workingregularly report that productivity has actually increased as a result.
“Other benefits reported include increased flexibility as staffworking from home are often more willing to work unconventional hours,” headded.
Flexible working has been foremost in many industry mindsover the past 24 hours, as the realisation dawned that, once again, a greatnumber of companies were completely unprepared for the current cold snap.
“Resellersshould be talking to their customers not only this week but over the comingmonths about how they cope when we have severe weather conditions,” said RobLovell, CEO at cloud computing provider ThinkGrid. “So while the snow will beresulting in lost revenue for many, resellers have a real opportunity to use itto boost their cloud computing revenues.”
Thequestion of why flexible working technology was not upsold in the months afterthe cold snap of February 2009, which resulted in similarly preventable chaos, hasyet to be asked.
Meanwhile, although many IT distributors gamely remainedopen yesterday, b-2-b sales were reportedly slow as customers opted to stayhome, with some treating the day as “almost like a holiday”, according to Avnet’sSukh Rayat.