The London Olympics has acted as a powerful catalyst in driving the adoption of more flexible working practices. Almost half of those businesses who introduced more flexible working to avoid disruption during the Games plan to adopt long-term change, according to new research undertaken on behalf of Citrix.

The decision by 13% of SMEs in the London area to opt for a different approach during the Games was reflected by Citrix reporting a 38% increase in usage of the Citrix flagship virtual GoToMeeting service over the Olympic period.

The move to new working practices was met with a positive reaction by employees from 77% of London SMEs who implemented them. Only 5% met with a negative response. 45% also reported a positive effect for the business as a whole, with just 8% reporting any negative experience.

The research also showed that 56% of firms believe that flexible working is important to help attract and retain the best staff. 48% even said will become even more important in the next five years. This was particularly evident among younger staff, with 72% of millennials (aged 18-34) seeing this as important, compared to 41% of the baby boomer generation (staff aged 55 and over).

“This is excellent news for business,” believes Andrew Millard, senior director, EMEA marketing for the Online Services division at Citrix. “The survey findings confirm that the Olympics has created a flexible working legacy, with employers and staff reacting positively to new ways of operating, allowing them to be equally productive, wherever they are located.”

The YouGov survey polled over 500 senior decision-makers in London-based businesses with fewer than 250 employees to evaluate their experiences of flexible working. Almost half of the businesses (47%) which tried out a new flexible working policy during the Olympic period say they plan to either keep it in place or reintroduce it soon.

“Just as the huge investment in infrastructure is expected to provide an important legacy in terms of housing, jobs and sporting achievement, so the adoption of mobile workstyles and more flexible working practices will also provide lasting change in making businesses more competitive and improving work-life harmony of their employees,” adds Millard.