LONDON--Flexible working. It’s more than just a nice-to-have perk. It’s now at the heart of employee expectations. So says a Vodafone UK study. Virtual offices can help make flexible working a cost-effective, productive reality.

According to Vodafone, UK companies are sharpening their focus on softer workplace benefits to attract and keep the best talent. That is one of the key takeaways in the report, entitled, “Exploring the shift in employee expectations.”

The report shows that flexible working is having a major impact on job satisfaction in today’s job  market. In fact, employees now consider flexible working more important than financial benefits, such as a stake in the business, perks, bonus schemes and pensions.

The study also reveals that work-life balance is nearly as important today as basic salary. As employers battle to hire the best, the study shows that flexible working is emerging as one of the most valuable weapons an employer can have.

“Flexible working has gone from being a nice-to-have perk to now being at the heart of employees’ expectations,” says 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. Finding better ways of working will strengthen an employer’s offer to potential new talent but will also enable current employees to find a work-life balance that suits them."

Virtual offices and flexible working are synergistic. Although you don’t need a virtual office to employ flexible working, you can be much more productive and present a more professional business image if you tap into virtual communications solutions. Chances are the productivity and freedom virtual offices offer will lead you to arrange your work schedule with enough flexibility to encourage greater work-life balance.