Flexible future for small businesses

A new website, flexible-working, will be launched in Cornwall this morning which will help small businesses boost their productivity and profits through flexible working.
The site, which is the first portal of its kind to be aimed at both small business owners and staff, provides practical information and guidance on how working flexibly can help small companies beat the credit crunch. 

The launch of the site coincides with Business Anytime Anywhere – the first conference in the UK on the benefits to small businesses of flexible working, which is taking place at the Eden Project in Cornwall today.
Flexible working practices, such as working from home or on the move, can help improve workers’ productivity by as much as 15 per cent, while simultaneously reducing overhead costs. 

In spite of this, Business secretary Lord Mandelson has recently come under pressure from organisations such as the Institute of Directors to postpone plans to extend the right to request flexible work arrangements to a further 4.5 million parents nationwide, until economic conditions improve.
However, research to be launched at Business Anytime Anywhere, suggests that this could be a short-sighted move. 

In an 18-month long study of South West businesses, almost eight out of ten (78 per cent) of the firms which took part experienced an increase in productivity by adopting flexible working practices during the period.
Marian Bond from Cornwall Enterprise, one of the organisations funding the event, said: “Flexible working is usually associated with big blue chip firms, but the fast-growing and successful small business community in Cornwall has been quick to adapt flexible working practices and is now reaping the rewards.”
One such firm benefiting is fire protection business Fire Crest. 

From its base near Hayle in Cornwall, the company introduced flexible and mobile working six months ago.  Operations director Harry Hart is very pleased with the effect the new practices have had on the firm. 

“The changes we’ve made have enabled us to increase productivity and profits, improve the work-life balance of our staff, and most importantly, increase customer satisfaction,” he explained.
Bond concluded: “The traditional nine-to-five routine is too restrictive for modern business and can cause havoc with your work-life balance.  The future is definitely flexible.”
The Business Anytime Anywhere conference is funded by the South West RDA and BT, as well as Cornwall Enterprise.  

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