New research by Ernst & Young (EY) suggests the UK economy could benefit to the tune of £8.5bn if more SMEs and large organisations embraced productive flexible working practices.

Data published by communications watchdog Ofcom last week revealed that over 39 million UK adults are now accessing the internet everyday and industry experts have called on more businesses to create ‘hybrid’ offices that take advantage of cloud computing and the net.

EY’s study also found that the majority of firms believe flexible working would transform business culture and lead to higher levels of commitment, motivation and employee relations; meanwhile, 8.7 million UK workers want the opportunity to work on a flexible basis.

Condeco Software founder and CEO Paul Statham said: “Thanks to cloud-based collaboration and unified communications services such as email and video conferencing, a laptop and internet connection is all that most people need to perform their job.”

He continued: “96% of UK knowledge workers that have been given the chance to work from home have taken up the opportunity, and 94% would work from home twice a week if they could.”

The cloud and the evolution of smartphones is making it easier for contractors and freelancers to complete admin tasks and access important files while on the move.

The shift away from traditional office working is also likely to become more prevalent following legislation passed last year that allows an employee to request flexible working arrangements if they have been with a company for over 26 weeks.

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