UK firms are set to face increasing demands from staff for flexible and remote working arrangements with new employment rights that come into force today.
The 2006 Work and Families Act gives people who care for adults similar rights to flexible working as those introduced for parents of young children in 2003. The law required employers to give serious consideration to requests for flexible working from parents of children aged under six.
The law will now be extended to cover employees who care or expect to care for an adult who is their partner, a near relative or lives at the same address. Employers will have to consider flexible arrangements including remote working and changes to working hours.
The legal change comes as research carried out for Microsoft by the Future Laboratory revealed that nearly half of workers aged under 25 believe the ability to determine their own working patterns is more important than high salaries.
Mark Deakin, product manager for unified communications at Microsoft said: "Many under-25s have grown up surrounded by technology and as a result they are entering the workplace with certain expectations. This raises clear cultural and management issues in the first instance - managing a dispersed team is very different from managing a team which is office based for example.
"However, there are benefits that the right technology can bring to create a happy, flexible and therefore productive workforce. Businesses should concentrate on facilitating the flow of information and enabling effective collaboration across boundaries."