A group of 22 influential business leaders are calling on UK firms to increase their use of flexible working practices, claiming that doing so can help lower costs and boost employee engagement.
Led by Sir Win Bischoff, chairman of Lloyds Banking Group, the company heads have created a new group, the Agile Future Forum – which aims to revolutionise traditional working practices, promote a wide use of flexible working and, ultimately, boost the UK economy.
Others involved in the project include the likes of Ian Livingston, chief executive of BT, Martyn Phillips, chief executive of B&Q, Mark Ovenden, chairman of Ford Motor Company, and Adam Crozier, head of ITV.
In a letter to the Daily Telegraph, the forum's members explained: "Our companies and organisations differ in size, sector and location but we share a common view that workforce agility is generating significant and tangible financial benefits for our businesses."
With new technology such as free conference call services making it easier than ever for firms to keep in touch with remote workers, the vast majority of firms already offer some degree of flexible working, such as the option to conduct business from home or another more suitable location.
However, the members of Agile Future Forum claimed that the term "flexible working" has gained a bad reputation for being "a benefit for employees and a cost for employers".
"This runs contrary to our experience: if implemented successfully by business leaders, workforce agility can offer sustainable business performance and engaged employees," they said.
A report from Agile Future Forum found that flexible working is helping its members enjoy benefits equivalent to three to 13 per cent of workforce costs and, in some instances, sales uplift of up to 11 per cent.
"Creating an agile workforce has helped us to compete in the global market. We believe that it could help other UK businesses, too," said the group.