One of the City's largest law firms is in the process of introducing flexible working patterns in response to staff demand.
Anita Tovell, personnel director of Simmons & Simmons, said the new options for the company's staff include working from home and part-time working.
Simmons & Simmons measure the productivity of staff working flexibly to assess the effectiveness of the programme. The productivity of lawyers is measured by billable hours, whereas secretarial and support staff's productivity is measured by the number of tasks completed.
Tovell admitted it was much harder to measure the productivity of support staff, so they work on a three-month trial basis.
The trial is now in its second year and 82 staff are working flexibly. Simmons & Simmons intends to draw up a policy based on its trial in the near future.
Tovell said, "We started this initiative to explore work-life balance because we didn't want to draft a policy in a vacuum. We haven't noticed any positive or negative effect on productivity."
Staff with small children have to sign agreements guaranteeing that documents will be treated in the strictest confidence, and they have to confirm that they have childcare provisions in place.
One of the major challenges faced by Tovell's HR team is balancing the quality of life of staff with the demands of clients.
The firm employs 1,000 people in the UK and has 12 offices worldwide.