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Location biggest determinant in flexible work: Study


BRUSSELS, Belgium&;151;Workers in Finland and Sweden are more likely to be employed at companies with highly flexible working arrangements while those in Greece, Hungary and other southern European nations are apt to be working in the least-flexible environments, a study by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions has found.

The foundation, a European Union body, analyzed the results of questionnaires sent to more than 21,000 establishments in 21 European countries to determine how countries differ in their application of flexible work-time systems and the impact of those arrangements on company performance and employment.

The 83-page study concluded that the country where company is located is the strongest determiner of how flexible its work arrangements tend to be, reflecting legal and cultural influences. The second strongest determinant was company size as measured by the number of employees and the sector to which the company belonged was the third-strongest determiner of flexibility.

Across Europe, organizations with 50 or more employees in commercial services and public administration were more often found to be highly flexible in working arrangements aimed at meeting workers' needs, while small construction firms and other industry businesses were found to be least flexible.

The study noted, though, that flexibility is not always a good workplace policy. "In reality, the situation is much more complicated," the report stated. "Distinguishing between flexibility strategies aimed at workers' needs and strategies aimed at establishments' operational demands appears crucial in this context."

The survey is available at