Headlines: May 16th, 2008

A new survey shows that IT is the major constraint on flexible working within local authorities. The study, by WiseWork, also found there was an increased business focus for the introduction of flexible working rather than the welfare imperative of staff’s work life balance.

Results showed that cost savings had moved from 15th place in 2006 to be the number one driver for flexible working in 2008. At the same time, work-life balance fell from third to ninth in the list. Marylou Lousvet, a Director of WiseWork said, “There has been a discernible movement in both the implementation and management of flexible working in many of the councils we surveyed. Flexible working is being considered much more seriously as a means to improve business performance than it was in 2006.”

Meanwhile the survey highlights IT as the major block to effective implementation of flexible working within councils. IT was ranked 1st in the list of perceived constraints, compared with being 4th in 2006. The study shows, though, take up of technology is increasing but budgets are the main constraint to further implementation.

It also shows staff are more accepting of flexible working than many of their managers thought. One District Council said that as it had become more common staff had accepted it and it was now not an issue.

WiseWork carried out telephone interviews during February 2008 mainly with Human Resource and some Business Development staff. Twenty-two councils took part, from eight English regions and Wales.