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Flexible working breeds innovation

Flexible workplace practices such as remote working and co-working can help foster innovation within an organisation, according to research from global workspace provider Regus.

2,200 senior managers and business owners across the UK were asked to pinpoint the top measures to nurture so-called intrapreneurs – employees with entrepreneurial flair. Half of respondents reported the need to mix staff from different functions and two fifths cited flexible working, in terms of hours and location.

This research comes as firms are increasingly seeking to promote entrepreneurship and innovation at all levels within the business, following the lead of companies such as Google and Dell.

Other innovation drivers pinpointed by respondents included skills updating programmes and access to senior management, however less than a quarter mentioned formal innovation programmes.  14% of respondents in large companies suggested placing staff on assignment in SMEs.

Andre Sharpe, Global Product and Business Development Director at Regus, commented: “Businesses of all sizes are focused on tapping into the powerful innovative drive of entrepreneurs to help drive growth.

“For me, this means taking corporate staff out of their comfort zone and encouraging them to keep the company’s overall goals in mind, guarding against a & lsquo;silo mentality’. As our research showed, helping staff mix with other functions is a great way to achieve this. Letting staff work remotely – whether in our business centres, public libraries or other & lsquo;third places’ – is a modern way of bringing people together from different company functions and even different firms.

“As companies grow, they must ensure their culture remains entrepreneur-friendly. Frequently entrepreneurs are characterised by their freedom and flexible work style, so large companies that encourage flexible working will naturally create a more conducive environment for creativity and ideas.”

Mr Sharpe, himself an entrepreneur who has founded and sold four successful businesses in the tech and services industry, developed and launched Regus Businessworld, the global membership programme designed to make drop-in workspace accessible and affordable for flexible workers. 

The new study chimes with previous research commissioned by Regus in which seven in ten UK firms linked flexible working to increased creativity in their organisation. Three quarters said that flexible workers have a greater sense of responsibility.



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