BT reaps 20% productivity increase from flexible working, despite resistance from some line managers

BT has admitted that it had to replace line managers as it overhauled its working culture to become a leader in flexible working.

Last month, the telecommunications giant was held up as a golden example of what flexible working can achieve by campaigning body Work Wise UK.

BT claimed it has secured a 20% increase in productivity since 2001 by allowing 80% of staff to work outside the office for at least one day per week.

But the firm’s group strategy director, Clive Ansell, told Personnel Today that it was not easy to bring in these changes. “There were teething problems. It was a training of managers issue,” he said.
“You have to go up several levels of management, and there is a trust issue: ‘If I can’t see you, I don’t know you are working’.”

Pushed on whether BT had to dismiss some line managers who refused to accept flexible working, Ansell replied: “In some of the earlier moves, we had to make some changes. We had to bring some people in.”

But the changes have brought immense benefits to the company, as well as cutting congestion and carbon emissions by reducing car journeys, according to Ansell.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has joined forces with the British Chambers of Commerce to offer help for small businesses in developing flexible working practices.

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