Britain's most flexible small business revealed

A veterinary practice has been crowned the country’s most flexible small business, thanks to an approach that gives employees the freedom to pursue their passions.

Broad Lane Vets in Coventry employs all the staff you’d expect, including veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses, and support staff. But this is a team with a difference: it includes Stephanie Johnston, captain of the Scottish Women’s Rugby team, and Kerry Williams, a well-travelled vet who does regular charity work in Mongolia. Stephanie and Kerry are just two of Broad Lane’s 40 staff, over half of whom work flexibly or part time.

Broad Lane’s refreshing approach to staffing led to the company being crowned ‘the UK’s most flexible small business’ in April this year.

The competition reached over 20,000 small businesses in their quest to find inspirational examples of flexible working. Timewise co-founder Karen Mattison explained that “the aim of the competition was to debunk the outdated myth that flexible working is ‘the enemy of small business’”.

The Federation of Small Businesses says that, of its members that employ staff, 74% have at least one employee who works flexibly. This number is likely to continue to rise: research showed that 70% of full time workers would like the option to work flexibly, which could equate to around 8.7 million workers.

Karen Mattison argues that flexible working often makes business sense: ‘We work with some really innovative and forward thinking SMEs that are experimenting with different styles of working – in a deliberate bid to attract core talent”.

This certainly seems to have worked for Broad Lane vets, which boasts high staff retention rates and a team of employees who feel positively about their company, and who bring other skills and interests to bear on their work.

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