Only half of small businesses offer flexible working options, says study

by L&D10 Nov 2016
A new survey has indicated that the opportunity for flexible working options can have a beneficial effect on productivity and employee happiness, but that only 53 per cent of Australian small business owners offer workers the chance to work from different locations.
The study was carried out by Officeworks, who have investigated the working habits of employees and the preferences of small business owners in Australia. A total of 1,000 employees were surveyed, of which 34 per cent would like to work away from the 'traditional' office desk, but only 49 per cent have the option.
The respondents who were allowed this flexibility reported benefits including less stress (44 per cent), higher levels of productivity (42 per cent) and feelings of happiness (40 per cent).
A spokesperson for Officeworks, psychologist Dr. Suzy Green from the Positivity Institute, believes employers must evolve with the changing trends of the modern workforce.
“The Officeworks research results and associated supporting scientific studies demonstrate that working flexibly is a win/win situation for both employees and employers – delivering a more productive, focused and happier workforce.”
Working from home, a café or hot-desking was identified by the survey as presenting certain problems, including the need to meet with clients and engage with colleagues. These issues can be overcome, says Green, if small businesses embrace technology and the possibilities of virtual communications.
“Offering employees the opportunity to shape how they work provides significant psychological benefits and autonomy. As well as overall wellbeing, other aspects like job satisfaction, staff retention and cost savings can also be attributed to this way of working, all of which should be hugely important to small business owners.”
A further finding was that 40 per cent of small businesses believe that workers are less productive if they are not offered the opportunity to work outside of the office – despite the fact just 53 per cent of businesses offer their workforce this flexibility.