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Flexible Working: The New Normal

A new report has revealed that a total of 75 per cent of companies around the world now have flexible working policies in place.

Published by Vodafone, the report, entitled Flexible: friend or foe?, asked 8,000 employers and employees across three continents about their views on flexible work.

According to the results of the study, 61 per cent of employers stated that flexible working encouraged their company’s profits to increase, 83 per cent said productivity was boosted, and 58 per cent said it improved the firm’s reputation.

The report also confirmed that a total of 75 per cent of worldwide companies have flexible working policies that allow employees to work from home or work remotely via smartphone, tablet and laptop.

Despite these results, the study found that 33 per cent of businesses without flexible working policies in place feel it cannot be part of their business culture, while 30 per cent also stated that it would ruin their relationship between the employees who could work flexibly and those who could not.

Commenting on the research, Vodafone Group Enterprise Chief Executive Nick Jeffery said: “Vodafone’s research reveals a profound and rapid shift in the modern workplace. Employers are telling us that flexible working boosts profits while their employees tell us they’re more productive.”

Government blamed for contractor confidence crisis

An index measuring contractor confidence has dropped significantly in the third quarter of 2015, with government attitudes towards contracting the apparent root cause.

The Freelancer Confidence Index which is conducted by The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE) has recorded a significant decline in the latter parts of 2015.

The index score measuring contractor’s business prospects has dropped negative for the first time ever.

When asked whether or not they were confident about the performance of their businesses improving over the next 12 months only 28% of contractors responded positively. This is down from 41% in the previous quarter.

Contractor attitudes to the overall health of the economy were also in decline. The index score tumbled more than 20 points between Q2 and Q3 from +16.1 to – 4.3.

Many contractors cited higher business costs as the root cause of the confidence crisis. Almost two thirds (65%) of freelancers expect their costs to increase in the next 12 months.

Chris Bryce, CEO of IPSE said that proposed public policy changes like the tax and subsistence review are a significant concern for cash-strapped contractors.

He said: “It is clear that freelancer confidence levels have taken a knock. IPSE is deeply concerned over current proposals for changes to travel and subsistence tax relief and more forceful implementation of IR35 – which still operates under an outdated format.

“These changes have the potential to affect a significant driver of the UK economy and put tens of thousands of freelancers out of business. We call on the Government to rethink these proposals to restore freelancers’ lost confidence.”

The findings also showed that contractors were taking less time off, with the average contractor working 83% of Q3, up from 80% in the previous quarter.

This is despite the fact that Q3 includes the key school summer holiday months between July and September.

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