Cranfield School of Management

Flexible working has positive impact on UK workers

30 April 2008

A positive relationship between flexible working practices and employee performance is a key finding of a significant new piece of research to be launched at “Measuring Up–The Impact of Flexible Working Practices on Performance,” a major conference taking place in London on 30 April 2008.

Flexible Working and Performance is the result of a two-year research project by Cranfield School of Management in collaboration with Working Families.  Seven major blue-chip companies, from a range of sectors, participated in the research.  The report demonstrates that flexible working can be a win-win option for employers and employees.

As the availability and types of flexible work continue to increase, there is a greater need to know exactly how such working practices affect the organisation with regard to performance of individuals, and the impact on colleagues and managers.

Key findings of the report include:

- The majority of flexible workers, co-workers of flexible workers and managers of flexible workers reported that there was either a positive impact or no impact on individual performance.  This was true for both quantity of work produced, and quality of work produced.

- The majority of employees reported that flexible working had a positive effect in reducing and managing stress levels.  However, there was evidence to suggest that for some individuals flexible working itself could become a source of work stress. 

- Significant positive relationships were found when comparing those who work flexibly with other employees.  Flexible workers were found to have higher levels of organisational commitment, and in some cases they also had higher levels of job satisfaction.  In addition, the availability of flexible working was a key competitive strategy within the labour market. 

- There was a high degree of informal flexible working across the organisations. 

Report co-author and Senior Lecturer in Strategic Human Resource Management from Cranfield School of Management, Dr Clare Kelliher, said:   "These findings are important because they show both performance-related and longer term benefits from flexible working.  However flexible working should not be seen as an add-on activity.  Other HR policies may need to be adjusted in order to ensure they support flexible working."

Working Families Chief Executive Sarah Jackson OBE said: “The key findings of this rigorous two year research project strengthen the business case for flexible working.   The research involving seven blue chip companies shows that flexibility has a positive effect on the quality and quantity of work and on employee commitment.  It is also clear that flexible working works best where it is available to all employees”.


Notes to editors

Seven leading companies took part in the research.  These were:  Centrica Citi KPMG Lehman Brothers Microsoft Pfizer and the Defence Aerospace business of Rolls-Royce.

The report will be launched at a major conference on 30th April.  Measuring Up – The Impact of Flexible Working Practices on Performance is hosted by Lehman Brothers and is taking place in Canary Wharf.  The speakers and panel members at the conference are:

  • Imelda Walsh, author of The Walsh Review of Flexible Working and HR Director, J Sainsbury plc
  • Susan Vinnicombe OBE, Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Diversity Management, Cranfield School of Management
  • Cary L. Cooper CBE, Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health, Lancaster University Management School
  • Dr Clare Kelliher, Senior Lecturer in Strategic Human Resource Management, Cranfield School of Management
  • Deirdre Anderson, Researcher, International Centre for Women Leaders, Cranfield School of Management
  • Neil Sherlock, Partner, Public and Regulatory Affairs, KPMG
  • Sarah Jackson OBE, Chief Executive, Working Families
  • Philippa Snare, Live Services Business Group Director, MSN
  • Sarah Bond, Head of Diversity, KPMG
  • Raj Ray, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Lehman Brothers
  • Sue Watson, Diversity Project Manager, Citi
  • Melanie Flogdell, Group Head of HR Policy, Centrica
  • Kim Panton, Director of Diversity – UK, Rolls-Royce

For more information on the conference, please go to:

For an advance copy of the research or to interview the report’s authors, please contact Emily Orton, Press Office, Cranfield School of Management.  Tel:  +44 (0) 1234 754348 or

For press passes to the conference or for comment from Working Families, please contact Liz Whitehead on 020 7253 7243 or  On the 30th April, contact the press mobile 07870 177096

Working Families is the UK’s leading work-life balance campaign organisation. It supports and gives a voice to working parents and carers, whilst also helping employers create workplaces which encourage work-life balance for everyone.

Cranfield School of Management is one of Europe’s leading university management schools renowned for its strong links with industry and business. It is committed to providing practical management solutions through a range of activities including postgraduate degree programmes, management development, research and consultancy.