Be Realistic say ntl:Telewest Business

Criticism from some quarters that the Government’s plans to press through flexible working legislation in the next session of Parliament would affect the productivity of UK businesses is taking an unrealistic view of working life today, according to ntl:Telewest Business.

Fundamental changes in the way that Britons work and live mean that they are much more likely to be working with a headset rather than a toolkit, and working different hours to the conventional 9 to 5 day. Consequently, granting the right to request flexible working to an estimated 4.5 million parents demonstrates the need to help people work effectively.

Stephen Beynon, MD of ntl:Telewest Business, part of the Virgin Media group, said: “Far from being prone to employee abuse, this legislation will bring the UK into line with the way we do business in today’s global market. Critics of extending flexible working seem to be stuck in a conventional workplace mindset that ignores how much communications technology has transformed how and where we can work.

“For example, with high speed broadband connections now becoming as essential to most homes as hot and cold running water, it is extremely simple and cost-efficient to set up a virtual office. Similarly, Virtual Private Networks, presence indicators and messaging tools make it possible to keep track of remote workers’ activity, and help them stay connected to colleagues and motivated.

“Assuming that flexible working will automatically lead to a dip in workforce productivity could even be harmful, as it risks sending out the message that we are behind the times in adopting new working practices . Managers should be focusing on evaluating the potential benefits of a healthy and successful flexible working culture rather than dismissing these ideas out of hand,” said Mr Beynon.