THE BLOG

London Commuters Want Bosses to Offer Flexible Working as Rail Fares Rise Again

09/01/2014 11:33 GMT | Updated 10/03/2014 09:59 GMT

Here's an alarming statistic for you: more than one in five commuters say rising fares are leading to them considering looking for work outside of London according to a OnePoll survey of over 500 London workers. This would be a disaster for the Capital's business scene. Can you imagine losing more than 20 per cent of your workforce to rising commuter costs?

But it's not all doom and gloom: 79% of workers surveyed said they would be happy to continue commuting if their current employer allowed them to work from home once or twice a week. It's a practical compromise that, following the release of part time season tickets, would make commuting more affordable for employees and avoid them looking closer to home for work.

What also stood out for me in the research was the potentially damaging impact that the mass of commuters who travel into London by rail each day are seeing in terms of their relationships, wellbeing and overall work-life balance.

Overall, nearly half (45%) of those polled believed bosses should offer the option of flexible working. Mostly, this was because they would benefit from more time to spend with family and friends and felt they would be less tired and more productive. Around half would welcome more opportunity to pursue hobbies and interests, while nearly one in three said that, if they were able to work flexibly, the risk of them being delayed for important work meetings and other commitments would be reduced.

This shouldn't come as a huge surprise, especially given that many people no longer think about 'work' as a physical place, or something they do within a strict 9 to 5 timeframe. Instead, most employers and employees will measure success on productivity or the quality of the work itself.

With this re-definition of 'office' working, the need for collaboration and flexibility has never been so important.

Clearly, the advantages of flexible working will go both ways. Notable benefits for employers include falling absenteeism and higher retention, which in turn saves on recruitment, induction and training costs.

Working away from the office needn't negatively impact on teamwork, either. Using videoconferencing, workers can collaborate with staff, colleagues and prospects around the globe, whether that's in London or Hong Kong, for instance. Many are also turning to workplace apps to help get work done from wherever they are.

Change doesn't need to happen overnight. Working from home just once or twice per week would make a big difference to productivity, benefiting both employer and employee. At a time of smaller bonuses and static salaries, it's a benefit that won't cost a lot but would pay serious dividends.