How the Tube strike ‎could improve the productivity and profitability of businesses

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ON A LONDON BUS — Today is another day in which the stoic and phlegmatic Briton will stand patiently at packed bus stops. Being there with far more people than any bus can carry‎ won’t dissuade them. Until the fourth or fifth bus passes, full, at which point they’ll pause to think about which direction and set off walking.

The papers, radio and TV will tell us that it will cost us £600 million in lost work hours, or £50 million a day in lost business. And we’ll be concerned, but resigned.

We’ll keep walking.

But is it really the case? Does it have to be that way?

Some recent work we have done on “flexible working” suggests that the opposite may be true. There may actually be quite a lot of money to be gained by some of the behaviours that the Tube strike will impose on Britain’s business community.

One of our clients saved $9 million in a single year simply by allowing more their employees to work from ‎home and reducing their office footprint. And they weren’t even based in London.

Another, London-based business with 600 employees is looking at a minimum £5 million annual reduction in costs — just by implementing flexible working

However, physical plant costs aren’t enough to sway most people. So it’s helpful that the research on productivity for people who work from home is also so high. Recent estimates suggest it is as much as a 13% increase in productivity for people who work at home. And there’s a 50% drop in employee attrition.  think of your HR costs saved!

Then there are the costs associated with travel in both time and money, which are ‎greatly reduced.  Fewer people take sick days.  There are many, many positive implications.

In fact, the biggest challenge to more businesses taking up flexible working is managers and organisational culture.  So, it’s mostly a change management question.

While we wouldn’t ‎suggest that the Tube strike is a good thing. It is a great opportunity to ‎encourage people to look at flexible working.

It could certainly make Tube strikes less important.  AND improve the productivity and profitability of UK businesses.

That’s surely worth a serious look.

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