East Midlands business chiefs hail right to flexible working as 'symbolic'

Business chiefs in the East Midlands say the Governments new proposals to give every employee the right to request flexible working are ‘symbolic, not systemic’.

Wednesday, 29th September 2021, 1:29 pm

And senior officials at the East Midland Chamber added that the recently-announced proposals are a response to changing working habits since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

Lucy Robinson, director of resources and HR lead at the chamber, said: “We know the way in which we work has undergone a monumental shift over the past 18 months and there is no doubt that, for people who are able to work from home, there is a continuing appetite to do so even as restrictions ease.

“Many businesses we represent have also identified significant benefits from flexible and agile working, including increased productivity, happier employees, reduced overheads and a wider labour pool to choose from.

Lucy Robinson, director of resources and HR lead at the East Midlands Chamber. Photo: Mark Averill

“These companies are already exploring and implementing permanent changes to workplace policies in which staff will enjoy greater flexibility – without the

need for Government intervention.

“However, what is also apparent from many office-based businesses is that there is no substitute for the office.

"When used effectively, it’s a creative environment where colleagues can come together to collaborate and generate new ideas, while for junior members of staff entering the workforce, they learn from their more senior colleagues.

“It’s also important to recognise that not every business is able to offer remote working practices, such as those in hospitality, retail, manufacturing, construction, engineering and tourism.

“These proposals therefore feel like a symbolic, rather than systemic, response from the Government to changes in working habits.”

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