Over four fifths of companies in South Africa now offer their staff flexible working, though Johannesburg businesses lag the national average, with 82% permitting flexibility versus 85% overall.
Most of those same companies find that flexible working brings major benefits such as improved staff productivity and reduced overheads while staff achieve an improved work-life balance. Seventy-nine percent of Johannesburg businesses believe that flexible working costs less than fixed office working, up on the national average of 68%.
These are the key findings of a new global research report from Regus based on responses from 17 000 businesses across 80 countries.
Regus spokesperson Joanne Bushell, VP Regus Africa and Middle East comments: “That flexible work has become the norm is good news all round: from employer to employee, from families to wider society and even the environment, everyone can benefit. For the first time, a global report based on 17 000 respondents provides conclusive statistical evidence, on the availability of flexible working and the value derived from associated benefits.”
Seven out of ten businesses offering flexible working report that their staff have a significantly better work-life balance, improving satisfaction and motivation; just over half believe that it improves staff productivity, and almost a quarter say that it helps them scale rapidly to cope with rapid growth. Almost a third of flexible working businesses also feel that their policy helps them access a wider talent pool and a quarter say it helps them employ people in more remote locations.
At the same time, the survey finds that trust remains a major hurdle for many companies offering flexible working: 44% of Johannesburg businesses only offer this privilege to senior staff (versus 48% nationally).
"By basing the right to flexibility on seniority, some firms are missing huge opportunities and may even alienate new talent that they may have gone to a great effort to attract,” says Bushell. “At a time when South African companies are concerned about the costs of employment, it is disappointing to still see some companies letting trust issues hold them back from flexi-working for all employees – even when so many of them recognise that flexible working can cut costs. However, since a good proportion of them see its advantages, even if they are not doing it at the moment, we can expect further growth in flexible working across the decade.”