How broadband is turning the UK into a nation of flexible workers header image

The way people work is changing. While the rigid, office-based nine-to-five routine has long been the norm, a greater degree of flexibility is steadily being introduced. This means Brits are increasingly becoming free to work from a place, and at a time, that suits them.

Broadband is the driving force behind this change. Thanks to advances in connectivity, it is now possible for people to work just as effectively from home as they would be able to do in the office. 

Recent research from O2 Business has revealed Brits have not been slow to take advantage of this. According to the organisation, 40 per cent of people now spend more than four hours per week working away from the office in locations such as coffee shops.

Close to half (46 per cent) of these individuals said they are more productive in an environment like this, while 47 per cent revealed they enjoy the opportunity for a change of scene. 

Paul Lawton, head of small business for O2, stated: "It's great to see an increasing number of people working away from the office and this is something I think we will continue to see in the future. I hope more people will be encouraged to work flexibly in light of the government’s changes to the legislation."

The legislative changes Mr Lawton is referring to occurred recently and means staff now have the right to request flexible working from their employer providing they have been working from them for at least 26 weeks.

According to figures from the Trades Union Congress, some four million Brits are now choosing to work from home on a regular basis and with the introduction of this new law that figure will surely only rise.

Benefiting employers and employees

Allowing flexible working can be beneficial for both businesses and their workforce. The latter can better fit their work around the rest of their life, as well as potentially saving money on costly commutes. 

For businesses meanwhile, previous O2 research has claimed that by using technology to encourage flexible working companies could generate an extra £30 billion for the UK economy annually.

Graham Brough, chief executive of the Centre for Economic and Business Research - which contributed to O2's study - stated: "ICT technologies … are starting to drive business productivity and restore the competitiveness of UK workers. 

"We expect to see the economic benefits from better connectivity increase as these technologies penetrate all aspects of the work environment whether this be working from home, whilst travelling or from remote locations."

Getting connected

Of course, to be a successful flexible worker requires a fast and reliable broadband connection and that is not something everyone in the UK has. This problem is often most severe in rural areas, which represents something of a paradox as people living in the countryside are among those who benefit most from the opportunity to work from home due to their isolated location.

Thankfully, there is a solution to this problem, as technology such as satellite broadband now means rural residents can be just as connected as their urban counterparts and are free to join the flexible working revolution.