Flexible working practices could give companies in the UK an edge over their competitors when it comes to attracting new talent, according to new research published today by Vodafone UK.

In a survey of 1,366 people across UK organisations of all sizes, senior managers and employees were found to be equally positive about the benefits of flexible working. Among employees who are able to work remotely with full access to systems and colleagues, more than three-quarters say it boosts their job satisfaction, and a similar proportion say that it improves their work–life balance.

Meanwhile, half of all managers surveyed said that offering flexible working options makes them a more attractive prospect as a potential employer, and 85 percent of managers believe that employees now expect greater flexibility from the companies they work for.

“Flexible working has gone from being a nice-to-have perk to now being at the heart of employees’ expectations,” said Peter Kelly, enterprise director at Vodafone UK. “British business clearly understands that motivation and job satisfaction are more than about money – work-life balance and feeling supported at work are also vitally important.”

Vodafone is a member of the government's Anywhere Working consortium, formed last year to offer advice on travel alternatives, provide online training in technologies that enable flexible working – such as video conferencing and cloud document sharing – and allow organisations to participate in trials.

“Most people still regard the physical office as the place where the real work gets done,” said Transport Minister Norman Baker MP, speaking at the ways2work conference at Microsoft's London offices last week. “I believe it's time to change that notion.”

He said that flexible working policies would be key to helping businesses in London run smoothly during the Olympics Games in London later this year. However, a contradictory report by the Cabinet Office warns that the surge of people going online at key times during the Games could cause the internet to crash – making working from home a potential nightmare.