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May 12, 2009

Flexible workers fitter, happier, more productive

The environment also benefits, says survey

By Steve Evans

Employees allowed to work flexibly are more productive than their 9-5, desk-bound colleagues, a new survey has found. They are also more likely to be healthier and spend more time with their families.

The survey was commissioned by communications vendor Avaya and carried out by Dynamic Markets. Over 3,500 workers from France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain and the UK were quizzed.

Abandoning the daily commute can save workers almost an hour and a quarter per day, which based on an average of 232 working days a year could amount to 39 working days every year.

Workers saving time by not commuting are choosing to spend more time with their families (56%), relaxing (45%), or attending appointments they would usually do in work hours (42%), the survey said.

A quarter of flexible workers use this spare time to fit more exercise into their lives, while one fifth put in extra hours at work.

As well as improving the fitness of workers, flexible working can be used to help the environment, the survey revealed – 60% of employees still drive to work, a number that could be reduced with more flexible working.

Michael Bayer, president of field operations, Avaya EMEA, said: “Unified communications solutions can help companies to make flexible working easy for employees. This report shows that it not only supports green initiatives but provides employees with greater control over their working lives.

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“The reduction in commuting that results has a huge positive impact for the individual and the environment – but it’s the financial consequences that are most interesting. The effect of increased productivity and the extra time spent working by a dedicated one fifth of employees could have a profound impact on European businesses. Extrapolate this up to the level of the economy and you can imagine flexible working as a turbo-charge for productivity across the region.”

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