LOCAL business in Somerset are keen to offer flexible working after the pandemic, a survey has revealed.

Somerset Chamber of Commerce conducted their latest Quarterly Economic Survey, in conjunction with the British Chambers of Commerce.

It revealed that more than 63 per cent of businesses than can offer flexible working will continue to do so.

And 31 per cent of the firms planning to allow staff to continue working from home would not require them to be in the office from week-to-week.

Those planning to offer working from home and complete flexi-working said they believed it helped them to retain staff, increased productivity and also reduced the carbon footprint of the business.

Only 17 per cent said they planned to reduce their office space as a result.

Alistair Tudor, operations manager at Somerset Chamber of Commerce, said: “Over 41 per cent of those surveyed said that staff retention was the most important reason to offer flexible working, backing-up reports that businesses are finding it tough to find staff at the moment.

“It was encouraging to see that many had recognised that productivity had increased in many cases, too, and recognising the positive environmental impact of fewer miles travelled to and from the workplace.”

According to the survey, companies in the transport and manufacturing sectors were the least likely to offer flexible working, while those working in the marketing and public relations sectors and the professional services were the most likely to be working from home.

Neil Discombe, managing director of Garador in Yeovil, said the company was planning to make the most of the benefits offered by flexi-working.

“The pandemic caused us to change working practices which we have now reflected on and realised that we have opportunities for improved workplace organisational changes,” he said.

“Networking with other Yeovil manufacturers helped us implement a new homeworking policy that benefits both the business and employees.”

Whereas Rob Brown, director of land surveyors Lewis Brown, in Wellington, said there are pros and cons with both office and home working.

“Working from home allows staff to reduce travel time and costs, improve their work/life balance and improve their productivity,” he added.

“However, in-house communication and client agility has been impacted.”