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The Future for Business and Flexible Working

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John Timpson

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In his final blog as the Women’s Business Council (WBC) member of the month, John Timpson, Chairman, Timpson Ltd talks about how senior men can act as agents of change and what the future holds for the way businesses work and how they will engage with their employees and customers.

In my previous two blogs I spoke about how my company, Timpson Ltd embraced flexible working, about the changes to the regulation that will be coming into force this year and how businesses should respond. In this blog I want to talk about how we can change the prevalent business culture and how business will work in the future.
In 1960, when I started work in our Altrincham shoe shop we were closed for a half day on Wednesdays and no one dreamt of shopping on a Sunday. In the office it was very much a 9 to 5 culture. Today, a lot of our shops open on Sundays and we trade in a lot of Supermarkets. The office is open seven days a week and plenty of our people working from home. With more customers shopping on the internet and the rise of 24 hour shopping we couldn’t keep our shops open without flexible working. In 20 years time we will wonder why we ever had such rigid hours of work.
Last Thursday I met with a small group of CEOs to discuss how men can act as agents of change in the introduction of flexible working. You may think that it’s strange that the Women’s Business Council should be focussing on men, but if we are to make a real change we have to engage with those with the power to facilitate it. Preaching to the choir will only get you so far.
The structure of family life has changed, the latest generation has many parents who feel they need two incomes, but are aware that they should spend plenty of time with their children. Good bosses see this as an opportunity to impress their colleagues. By being flexible on where and when the job is done, companies can make sure work and family fit together. Although some people see talk about work/life balance is a soft option in a world of macho managers it is now quite clear that people who work the way they want do a better job.
On Friday last week I attended the Work and Families Show where I took part in a panel discussion with Jenny Willott, Minister for Employment Relations, Consumer Affairs and Equalities and the economist, Vicky Pryce. The points made in our discussion with a 95% female audience were remarkably similar to those raised in my all male meeting the day before.
The world of work is now discovering that a flexible workplace helps to attract the best talent and make more money. If you want to know more about Flexible Working I can send you a free copy of my book (see below) To get your copy email your address to christine.hickman@timpson.com
Some of my past blogs include:

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