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Flexible working fosters innovation within companies, research shows

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A poll of 370 senior managers and business owners in the ICT sector by workspace provider Regus found that the top measures to nurture so-called “intrapreneurs” – employees with entrepreneurial flair – include mixing staff from different functions and flexible working, in terms of hours and location.

This research comes as firms increasingly seek to promote entrepreneurship and innovation at all levels within the business, following the lead of companies such as Google and Dell.

Other innovation drivers pinpointed by respondents included skills updating exercises (43 per cent) and access to senior management (35 per cent), however less than a fifth mentioned formal innovation programmes. Eleven per cent of respondents in large ICT companies suggested placing staff on assignment in SMEs.

In research across all industry sectors, 2,200 business respondents said they believe the ICT sector holds the richest potential for setting up a business nowadays.

“Tech and digital firms in particular lead the business world in innovation, and an important facet of this involves tapping into the powerful drive of young entrepreneurs. Yet as companies expand, how do they continue to nurture their entrepreneurial talent?” asks Andre Sharpe, global product and business development director at Regus. 

“Companies must continually challenge their staff, encourage them to guard against ‘silo mentality’ and keep the company’s overall goals in mind. Perhaps this is why over two fifths of our respondents are keen to ensure that staff mix with other functions. Letting them work remotely – whether in our business centres, public libraries or other ‘third places’ – is a modern way of bringing people together, even from different firms.”

Many leading firms already focus on promoting flexibility, freedom and choice (such as time management to work location).

“A flexible work style creates a happier workforce, in the right frame of mind to be creative. In other words, firms of all sizes are replicating the model that is the traditional province of small businesses and entrepreneurs. Innovating very rules of the workplace creates a platform for innovative, creative employees.”

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