Flexible working one year on - sustainable business and sustainable people

By Gareth Rice, Head of Environmental Sustainability at Telefónica UK

One memory of the flexible working day was listening to Radio 4 as I was having a cup of coffee after just coming back from the gym. They were broadcasting a rush hour traffic announcement about delays on the M4 and I was thinking ‘this is great; I’d normally be stuck right in the middle of that’. But really, the major thing that came across was the efficiency gains from the experiment, and the fact I got a lot more done than I would have in the office.

And it wasn’t just my effectiveness but everyone at our head office on Bath Road, Slough. The research shows 96% of our people saying they’re working as effectively, or more effectively than they were when only based in the office.We’re typically seeing people save 1 to 1.5 hours each on their commuting day, and while a lot of that time is going back to them, a fair proportion is also going back to O2.

But sustainability is more than just an environmental question. It’s also about ensuring we keep the business healthy for future generations.  That’s why we did a lot of work examining how much our office actually costs us to run, and found that each desk costs £7,000 a year. It was in our interest to address that, especially when we also found that 60% of desks were unoccupied at any one time. That’s why when we built our new HQ, we also invested in flexible working technology.

And sustainability touches on the supply chain. As a company we use about one thousandth of all the UK’s energy, and while we’re efficient, we also need to work at ways of diminishing our use of energy. Flexible working is a key way we’re doing that.

Sustainability also affects how people including employees view a company. Our research into how flexible working affects staff turnover, absenteeism and general attitudes to our organisation saw that those that work flexibly are much happier.  Which is why it simply has to be a part of our future.

On a personal level, I can control my life a lot better. O2 get more from me and I get much more out of my day. Flexible working is a significant reason why I work for O2. It’s one of the greatest things we’ve done in terms of allowing me to live my life how I want to live it.

To find out more about flexible working and the benefits it could bring to your business, call Matt Worth on 01235 433507 or visit our website.