Record staff absence for 2009

It was the most depressing day of the year, admittedly. No wonder millions of people decided to hide under their duvets and wait for Monday to end.

But, for many companies, each absent employee cost between £138 and £156 for that one day. This leads me nicely on to the topic of "flexible working".

While a fair few people pulled sickies through legitamate illness (there’s a nasty bout of flu making the rounds, I’m told) and some still suffering their post-NYE-excess hangovers, a number of people couldn’t make it into work because of weather and parenting commitments: their children’s first day of school.

Stephen Beynon, MD of ntl:Telewest Business, believes that plenty of organisations could have been spared this inconvenience by simply allowing these staff to work remotely.

"In cases where employees were unable to travel to work, businesses could have saved on lost revenue by offering flexible working," he says. "Our research shows that almost half of UK workers believe that without the stress and exertion of commuting they would feel healthier, and that they could still work productively from home if they had the technology.

"Flexible working no longer conjures up images of employees sitting around the house in pyjamas," he conrinues. "Savvy businesses are realising that it is a model that offers them a competitive advantage in a tough economic climate."

Though, for the disheartened and hungover employees who couldn’t face going into work last Monday, perhaps pyjamas and blankies would have made working from home significantly more bearable.

Beynon concludes: “With this in mind, it is perhaps no surprise that the government is continuing with its plans to extend flexible working rights to an estimated 4.5 million people, which will certainly alleviate the same level of downtime when next year’s January blues hit.”

Let us know your views on flexible working in the Real Business forum.

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