Work-life balance to save UK companies £31.7 billion

UK businesses could save up to £31.7 billion by helping workers fulfil their ideal work-life balance, according to a report by Orange into the impact of universal connectivity on the future of living and working in the UK.

The report, based on YouGov research and insights from futurologist James Bellini, reveals that 16% of respondents would be willing to take an average of £6,900 salary cut and 42% would be happy to forfeit their company car if it meant they could live and work in their ideal location. In addition, many more would be willing to forfeit the seniority of their role (27%) or future job progression (25%) to make their ideal work/life balance scenario a reality.

The Connected Britain report explores the workforce of tomorrow, and how the profound opportunities presented to both employees and employers through a digitally connected Britain will shape the way we live and work.

“This research reveals that far from being a financial barrier for business, flexible working actually presents a significant opportunity for businesses to save money and improve employee morale. Setting up an employee to work from home needn’t involve significant investment, just the willingness to give them to the tools they need to get the job done. Rather than waiting for the current economic climate to improve, savvy businesses will act now to reap the rewards offered by flexible working,” said Robert Ainger, director of corporate marketing at Orange UK.

The survey of 3,281 UK office workers also reveals the potential impact that a more connected Britain might have on the geographical spread of the UK’s working population. Although 40% of office workers are happy in their current work location, according to the study, 39% would rather live and work by the seaside, the countryside or the mountains.

Overall, the responses show a desire to move away from the UK’s traditional industrial and economic hubs such as the North East and the Midlands to more rural, idyllic locations, such as Devon. The South West, currently the fifth most populous region in the UK, would be by far the most popular region in which to live, with London coming in at second place+. This would have far-reaching implications for both businesses and the UK’s service requirements or even transport networks.

The research also uncovered the factors that currently drive people to live where they do, with 49% of office workers having moved to their current location because of a job offer.

Just 4% of workers are in their current location because of its proximity to family and friends. However, given the opportunity of flexible working in a universally connected Britain, 26% of people would choose a specific location because of its proximity to family and friends, creating a more family-oriented Britain.

Regular, social, face to face connections with close friends and family are clearly valued highly as workers strive for an improved work-life balance. This is especially true when considering that 87% of workers would choose to work flexibly away from the office some or all of the time and 31% would be willing to spend up to an hour travelling to work if it meant they could live in a location of their choosing. Unfortunately, in many cases, the traditional constraints of the physical office and employment hubs are limiting workers’ ability to make these choices.

Added James Bellini, Futurologist: “Connectivity is the vital resource of our future economy and businesses that ignore its power risk commercial marginalisation. This rapidly emerging digital age will have a profound impact on working practices as people will be able to work wherever – and whenever – they choose. This will generate substantial economic returns as “e-workers” of the future will be more productive, better motivated and happier. In turn, the businesses they work for will be more adaptable, more responsive to changing market conditions and more profitable.”