Half of UK Commercial Property Firms Refuse Staff Flexibility During the Olympics

Posted on 5 June, 2012 by MOVEHUT

According to new research, half of commercial property employers are not planning to allow staff greater flexibility during the 2012 Olympic Games.


The survey carried out by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) revealed that 48 per cent of commercial property companies, both nationally and in the capital, are not making any variations to their working practices all through the Olympics, either to allow staff to work more flexibly to avoid transport disruptions, or to watch main events while at work so employees don’t have to take time off.

This is despite the anticipated travel interruptions the 2012 Games will likely cause to commercial property companies in London, many of whom have been advised to use the Olympics as an opportunity to reconsider the way they require staff to work.

The survey found that only three in ten commercial property firms say they will try and accommodate requests from employees to work from home, 17 per cent aim to extend flexible working opportunities and just 13 per cent will actively encourage staff to work from home to help them avoid transport interruptions.

The results suggest a substantial number of private sector employers are refusing to react to the growing request for more flexible working from employees, with more and more employees wanting to be judged on “output” not on where they work. In roles that are not location-specific, many employees want to be trusted to work in a confidential and safe environment remotely or at home.

Countless research studies reveal employees with greater flexibility over their working hours-free from the culture of “presenteeism” are happier and more creative.

The CIPD survey shows 52 per cent of commercial property employers are planning to agree to greater flexibility, however, with one in ten commercial property companies saying they will allow employees to watch the Games on TV or online in the commercial office during work hours.

Nearly a third of employers will ensure TVs are available in their commercial offices and 11 per cent will allow employees to watch events online on their work computer.

A number of employers have used the upcoming Olympics as an excuse to test new and innovative methods of working; however the CIPD survey suggests that a significant number of commercial property firms are yet to be won over of the advantages of flexible work patterns.

The CIPD warns those commercial property firms who ban crucial events or refuse to let staff watch the Games online also risk damaging staff morale and motivation.


Research adviser at CIPD, Rebecca Clake said: “Options such as flexi time and home working can enable employees in parts of the country likely to face travel disruption as a result of the Olympics to spend their time working rather than stuck in traffic jams or adding to the pressure likely to be faced by our public transport system.”

She further added: “Of course some employers, for example, those providing public transport, will face additional demands during the Olympics and will have to manage their workforces carefully to ensure there are sufficient staff to deliver services.”

Barney Ely, director at Hays Human Resources, who helped conduct the survey, said those commercial property businesses that embraced flexible working would improve staff morale and engagement. He said: “The Olympics is a golden opportunity for UK businesses to review their flexible working policies to ensure they are supporting their staff.

“Communication is key to ensure both parties clearly understand and adhere to the guidelines around flexible working. By embracing this exciting time companies will benefit from more engaged employees.”

Ms Clake also warned there are fears that employees will turn up to work hungover or call in sick to watch key London 2012 events if they are not given the flexibility upfront. She said: “Just as importantly, employers should remind staff of the organisation’s policy on absence and misuse of alcohol, making clear that it is unacceptable to take time off sick, either to watch matches/events or to recover from the aftermath of long evenings in the pub in front of a big screen.

“It is of course also unacceptable to turn up to work so hung over that you are incapable of doing any work. Employers should make clear there are disciplinary consequences for taking unauthorised time off without good reason or not performing or misbehaving at work.”

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