Following a nationwide search, a Midlands-based veterinary practice has been crowned the ‘UK’s Most Flexible Small Business’. Broad Lane Vets, which has three practices across Coventry and a turnover of £1.4m, employs 40 people, with less than half working full time hours.
The veterinary practice offers staff various flexible working patterns, enabling them to balance other commitments and interests, including a vet who volunteers overseas and another who plays rugby for Scotland’s national women’s team.
The competition was launched by Timewise – the flexibility experts, in partnership with the Business is Great campaign, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and PwC, to prove that small businesses are driving revolutionary workplace change through flexibility.
Despite the popular belief that providing working patterns outside of ‘standard’ business hours is too complicated, resource-heavy or expensive for SMEs, growing numbers of smaller firms are now adopting flexible working with 3 in 4 FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) members employing at least one flexible worker.
Timewise launched the search in October 2014 in partnership with Smallbusiness.co.uk, reaching in excess of 20,000 small businesses (between two and 249 employees). Heralded as a beacon for innovative workplace excellence, Broad Lane Vets’ flexible working culture was selected as the winning entry by a judging panel including Stuart Rock of the Business is Great campaign, Elaine Barker of DWP and Stephanie Hyde from PwC.
Broad Lane Vets will receive a £1,000 cash prize and have a three minute video made that showcases its business and how it operates. Media partner of the initiative SmallBusiness.co.uk and Timewise will host the video simultaneously.
Timewise co-founder, Karen Mattison MBE says, “The aim of the competition was to debunk the outdated myth that flexible working is ‘the enemy of small business’. Broad Lane Vets is a stellar example of how small businesses are successfully implementing flexibility to help their organisations thrive, and often in industry sectors where you might least expect it.”
“The working world has moved on so much in the past ten years. A decade ago, for example, the common perception was that home or remote working was not as effective or productive as being ‘present’ at the workplace. Now, progressive businesses like Broad Lane Vets – whose staff often work from home when on non-clinical duties – utilise tools and technologies to facilitate flexible working, while still providing a quality, 7-days-a-week service.”
“I congratulate Broad Lane Vets and hope that it inspires more small firms across the UK to be as innovative and accommodating in the workplace.”
Minister for Employment Esther McVey, of the Department for Work and Pensions, says, “Employers need to recognise the value of flexible working. It is showing that what is good for their employees is good for the bottom line. With more women in work and ageing population, flexible working can be a win-win situation. By shining a light on the great work that many businesses, such as Broad Lane Vets, are already doing here, the hope is to encourage others to follow.”