Flexible working will save businesses money, reduce costs and boost productivity, causing a ripple effect across the UK

A predicted boom in flexible working could contribute £148 billion to the UK economy by 2030, equating to 16 times the cost of the London 2012 Olympics, according to the first comprehensive socio-economic study of changing workplace practices.

The analysis, commissioned by Regus and conducted by independent economists, studied 16 key countries to delve into the state of flexible working now and predictions for 2030.

Economic benefits

Regus also found that 11% of all employment today is associated with flexible workspaces in the UK, the highest proportion among the 16 countries studied. However, the study reveals that whilst the UK has been quick to adopt flexible work practices, its growth may be less than other markets by 2030 depending on the economic outcome of Brexit.

The report predicts an overall £366 billion boost to global GVA by 2030 as a result of flexible working, with the UK predicted to see GVA increase by 64%, which represents a healthy £148 billion addition to the UK economy. However, the report found that the markets set to enjoy the biggest hike in GVA were China and India, which are predicted to see increases of 193% and 141% respectively. In Europe the best performer will be the Netherlands which is expected to see growth of 102%.

The smaller growth in the UK may be explained by the drivers of flexible working use being driven by financial services, information and communications, and business services. These are all industries currently expressing uncertainty about the outcome of the UK’s exit from the EU.

The study found that greater levels of flexible working will save businesses money, with flexible workspace solutions being up to 75% cheaper than traditional fixed real-estate alternatives. Likewise, it can reduce operating costs and boost productivity – ultimately causing a ripple effect across the economy from core businesses through to supply chains.

The specific benefits include higher business and personal productivity, lower overheads for office space for companies using flexible workspace, and millions of hours saved commuting. What’s more, more people working flexibly can also fuel increased economic activity via higher employee earnings. All of these factors contribute to flexible working’s gross value add (GVA) to the economy.

Personal benefits

The study found that flexible working doesn’t just benefit economies – it also helps individuals.

In our time poor society, flexible working is set to save individuals in the UK 115 million hours of commuting time per annum, by 2030. That is equivalent to 14 million days spent at work. This was calculated via an accelerated growth model, which lays out a scenario for uptake of flexible working at a higher-than-current rate.

The motivation for flexible working is further supported by the fact that more than nine out of ten professionals think workers are more productive when operating from a flexible workspace, research from Regus’s parent group, IWG found.*

Richard Morris, CEO of Regus UK, says:

“Flexible working is a powerful tool that has the power to benefit not just businesses, but societies and whole economies. This has become possible due to the accelerating adoption of flexible working as a standard business practise for millions across the UK.

“It’s hugely exciting to consider the ways our society could benefit as a result of increased flexible working – especially as the growth projections to 2030 show just how important it will be in the decades to come. Businesses must seize the opportunity to become part of this workspace revolution and continue bringing flexible workplace to employees across the globe.”

The report’s author, Steve Lucas of Development Economics, says,

“As this study shows, flexible working offers significant contributions to society, from giving people more of their personal time back, to boosting the economy via job creation and improved productivity. These projections show flexible working is a strong economic force that businesses and people should embrace in the years to come.”





Rebecca joined the HRreview editorial team in January 2016. After graduating from the University of Sheffield Hallam in 2013 with a BA in English Literature, Rebecca has spent five years working in print and online journalism in Manchester and London. In the past she has been part of the editorial teams at Sleeper and Dezeen and has founded her own arts collective.