From today workers with children 16 or under have the right to request flexible working hours.
This new legislation is expected to affect 10 million workers. Pat McFadden, the employment relations minister, said, "Firms can still say no if they have legitimate business concerns, but more than 95 per cent of all requests for flexible working from working parents and carers are now accepted, as employers recognise the benefits more and more."
The legislation is going to bring new demands to IT departments. Rob Lovell, CEO of hosted IT services provider ThinkGrid, said, "Providing IT infrastructure internally can be challenging enough, but taking it out of the office may present massive risks not only in areas such as security, but also to the productivity of the flexible workers you are trying to support.
"IT departments will need to guarantee flexi-workers have the same quality of IT access they have grown used to, as well as ensuring these employees can continue to effectively collaborate with their colleagues who remain in the office.
"For SMEs -- whether they have an IT department or not - the challenge will no doubt be magnified."
Not surprisingly, Lovell said that hosted It services could "take the burden of management away and work to the same high standards of service that businesses have got used to with internal IT."
James Stevenson, VP at Citrix UK, welcomed the new legislation, saying the "move which is undoubtedly good for UK businesses. Not only will pressures on office space, IT costs and travel expenses be reduced, but staff morale will receive a significant boost at a time when monetary incentives are becoming increasingly difficult to award."
But he too warned of the impact on IT departments. "IT managers will be under pressure to deliver an optimised service to everyone, irrespective of physical location or device.
"Historically, working away from the office could be a second class experience... slow application delivery, little IT support and even, total application failure."
Stevenson urged organisations to review their application delivery strategy. "Delivery speeds can and should be the same as within the office. End-users shouldn't live at the mercy of their WAN connection, but should instead experience LAN-like application performance," he said.