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Firms lag UK in flexible working.

Byline: DAVID JONES

COMPANIES in North Wales firms lag behind the rest of the UK when it comes to flexible working and are being told they must "raise their game".

A flexible working specialist is telling businesses in the region that they need to consider different ways of working in order to boost their staff productivity and morale.

Peter Knowles said firms that implement flexible working make many cost savings and benefits - including cutting up to 30% off the cost of their existing property space.

Firms can achieve the savings by allowing staff to work from home, share or hot desk, or work from mobile offices or drop-in centres, reducing the number of desks and properties needed and thus enabling businesses to end expensive rents, mothball, or sell property.

Mr Knowles added that businesses across North Wales were generally poor at making staff aware of flexible working options because they were worried about potential pitfalls but ignored the benefits.

"Employers are concerned staff will 'skive' when working from home, but this is easily addressed by having a clear smart performance management system in place," he said.

"Evidence shows that people who work from home are between 20% and 40% more productive, work longer hours, and are happier than their office-bound colleagues."

Mr Knowles, business development director with BT Workstyle and a flexible work advisor, is supporting the Welsh Assembly Government's Inside Welsh Industry (IWI) initiative. Managed by the Wales Quality Centre, IWI brings businesses together from all sectors to share their skills, knowledge and experience first hand at a series of seminars and aims to help companies beat the recession.

David Phillips, Wales Quality Centre chief executive, said: "It's important we keep industry moving forward, especially in the current economic crisis and I'm sure more companies in Wales could use flexible working to boost performance and support staff."

Trish Chalk, commercial director at Chwarae Teg, Wales' leading agency for the economic development of women, said: "Many organisations now see flexible working as key to attracting and retaining talented employees, while achieving cost savings through reduced absenteeism and improved morale."

david.r.jones@dailypost.co.uk
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 8, 2009
Words:355
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