HR professionals are scared of embracing flexible working - fearing it will kill off their careers.
In a major study by Flexecutive and the Chartered Institute of Marketing, nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of marketing and HR professionals say they would like to take up the flexible work opportunities their companies offer, but think doing so will stop their career dead in its tracks.
Flexecutive's managing director, Carol Savage, said until something is done about the career progression barrier, flexible working will continue to be dismissed as something mothers opt for when sacrificing their careers for their children.
"This research definitively shows that although more people want to work flexibly - and this doesn't necessarily mean part-time working, but more flexi-time and flexi-place - they're genuinely concerned about what this will do to their careers," she said.
Savage said that for employee perceptions to change, there needs to be a huge culture shift that measures people's output as well as apparent input, that embraces creative ways of using resources and doesn't stifle new ways of doing things by creating a career path only for those working long hours in the office. She added that management must begin to adopt flexible policies.
The research shows that the types of flexible working that hold the most appeal for staff are working core hours in the office and the remainder at home or in their own time (52 per cent), home working (49 per cent), and working by results not hours (39 per cent).
In a separate study, also out today, BT has calculated the benefits of its flexible working programme to be worth around £39m per annum.
The company estimates that the 5,200 homeworkers BT employs generate £31m in accommodation savings alone, while their increased productivity over traditional office workers is worth another £4m.