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Is Flexible Working the future? We ask tech leaders for their views

With a huge talent gap emerging in many sectors, businesses have been looking to recruit new workers, as well as retain their current staff – with flexible working leading the way in most attractive perks in recent years. 78% of workers claim flexible working has given them a better work-life balance, indicating these arrangements could hold the key to employee satisfaction.  

However, the trend isn’t yet widespread, with 46% of workers not yet being offered flexible working arrangements in their current roles. The UK government has introduced legislation to help combat this, which will give employees the right to request flexible working arrangements from their first day of employment. 

We asked experts at leading tech companies for their thoughts: 

The evolving workplace 

Chris Moore, President at Veeva Europe, emphasises the necessity of implementing flexible working: “This change to worker rights will further cement the importance of putting employee choice first. Companies will soon realise that productivity comes from employees deciding where they work best on any given day – Veeva believes that ‘Work Anywhere’ approaches will quickly become the norm and has enacted this as a corporate policy since before the pandemic.  

“People want to be productive for themselves, their teams, and their customers. We need to trust and empower them to decide how best to make that happen. It’s important for companies to enact durable policies that provide stability and clarity and are not constantly changing.” 

Similarly, Pam Maynard, CEO at Avanade, comments: “For me personally, the future of work is rooted in flexibility and choice, and this should be a right. Since the pandemic, the topic of how to give people diverse work options so they can live full lives, professionally and personally, has dominated boardroom conversations. 

“For the businesses that do not grasp flexibility with both hands and give it to workers from day one, I fear they will be victims to the future expectations from workers and will ultimately lose out, both in the quest for talent but also by lacking the innovation and creativity that comes from nurtured minds.” 

Spencer Pitts, End User Computing Chief Technology at VMWare, adds: “Research recently commissioned by VMware underpins this reality, with the overwhelming majority (82%) of employees with flexible working policies reporting higher job satisfaction alongside increased morale (53%), creativity (53%) and collaboration (52%). Despite this, two thirds (66%) of employers have concerns about how hybrid work will impact innovation within their organisation. 

“Ultimately, if employers want to keep pace, and ensure they are hiring and retaining the top talent in their fields, they need to recognise the value in implementing hybrid working policies. This means investing in their digital culture, and in solutions that can help to maximise innovation and collaboration between employees, from anywhere.”  

Ensuring effective implementation 

Nicole Downing, CEO at Ricoh Europe, agrees flexible working won’t work without investment in technology: “Businesses without a flexible work offering can no longer stay competitive. Cementing the right to request flexible working from day one goes a long way to normalise and establish working patterns that suit both company and employee. 

“But to make hybrid work a true success, businesses will also need to have a robust future-proof strategy in place and invest in the right technology for hybrid work. Using technology to create the right workplace experience is vital to attracting and retaining the best people in a market where digital-savvy talent is in such high demand.” 

Meanwhile, Callum Adamson, CEO and Founder at Distributed, advocates for a bigger focus on remote working: “More concrete steps towards increasing flexible working for UK employees are welcome. But the fact is that the new legislation allows for only a limited number of days away from the office, in other words, ‘hybrid working’. The future lies in remote working. 

“Forcing employees to work from one centralised location, even for two days a week, leads to proximity bias. By offering flexible working, businesses restrict themselves to only being able to select from a small pool of candidates that are able to commute or can afford to travel to a central office space. But in choosing to become remote, businesses can gain greater access to global talent and improve employee productivity.” 

Automating the future 

Mark Gray, UK and Ireland Country Manager at Universal Robots, argues automation will be key to helping manual workers access new opportunities for more flexible hours: “We must make sure that traditionally blue-collar workers – particularly in manufacturing, which accounts for 10% of our economy – do not get left behind in conversations around employee wellbeing and work-life balance. 

“While the industry is facing skills and labour gaps, a reduction in working hours may currently seem impossible. By embracing automation, manufacturers may well find more solutions to their problems than expected. In theory, this would reduce time spent at work and even get rid of the night shift which is known to have adverse effects on employees’ health. In turn, this could allow for more flexible work patterns for blue-collar workers, with productivity shortfalls offset by automation.” 

Finally, John Kelleher, Area Vice President UK&I at UiPath, agrees automation will help increase employee satisfaction. As he points out, “new legislation entitling all UK employees to request flexible working from day one of their jobs is recognition from the UK government of a need to act on the workplace mental health crisis. 

“It’s abundantly clear employees who have to perform mundane, repetitive tasks daily are experiencing disillusion in their current roles and feel stifled creatively. Our survey also discovered that 52% of workers find themselves considering other job opportunities when doing repetitive tasks compared to creative ones.  

“Until employees are given access to flexible work opportunities – something which automation can assist with, for example by enabling onboarding for remote employees – organisations continue to risk losing their best talent.”   

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Driving business success in today’s data-driven world through data governance

Source: Finance derivative

Andrew Abraham, Global Managing Director, Data Quality, Experian

It’s a well-known fact that we are living through a period of digital transformation, where new technology is revolutionising how we live, learn, and work. However, what this has also led to is a significant increase in data. This data holds immense value, yet many businesses across all sectors struggle to manage it effectively. They often face challenges such as fragmented data silos or lack the expertise and resources to leverage their datasets to the fullest.

As a result, data governance has become an essential topic for executives and industry leaders. In a data-driven world, its importance cannot be overstated. Combine that with governments and regulatory bodies rightly stepping up oversight of the digital world to protect citizens’ private and personal data. This has resulted in businesses also having to comply e with several statutes more accurately and frequently.

We recently conducted some research to gauge businesses’ attitudes toward data governance in today’s economy. The findings are not surprising: 83% of those surveyed acknowledged that data governance should no longer be an afterthought and could give them a strategic advantage. This is especially true for gaining a competitive edge, improving service delivery, and ensuring robust compliance and security measures.

However, the research also showed that businesses face inherent obstacles, including difficulties in integration and scalability and poor data quality, when it comes to managing data effectively and responsibly throughout its lifecycle.

So, what are the three fundamental steps to ensure effective data governance?

Regularly reviewing Data Governance approaches and policies

Understanding your whole data estate, having clarity about who owns the data, and implementing rules to govern its use means being able to assess whether you can operate efficiently and identify where to drive operational improvements. To do that effectively, you need the right data governance framework. Implementing a robust data governance framework will allow businesses to ensure their data is fit for purpose, improves accuracy, and mitigates the detrimental impact of data silos.

The research also found that data governance approaches are typically reviewed annually (46%), with another 47% reviewing it more frequently. Whilst the specific timeframe differs for each business, they should review policies more frequently than annually. Interestingly, 6% of companies surveyed in our research have it under continual review.

Assembling the right team

A strong team is crucial for effective cross-departmental data governance.  

The research identified that almost three-quarters of organisations, particularly in the healthcare industry, are managing data governance in-house. Nearly half of the businesses surveyed had already established dedicated data governance teams to oversee daily operations and mitigate potential security risks.

This strategic investment highlights the proactive approach to enhancing data practices to achieve a competitive edge and improve their financial performance. The emphasis on organisational focus highlights the pivotal role of dedicated teams in upholding data integrity and compliance standards.

Choose data governance investments wisely

With AI changing how businesses are run and being seen as a critical differentiator, nearly three-quarters of our research said data governance is the cornerstone to better AI. Why? Effective data governance is essential for optimising AI capabilities, improving data quality, automated access control, metadata management, data security, and integration.

In addition, almost every business surveyed said it will invest in its data governance approaches in the next two years. This includes investing in high-quality technologies and tools and improving data literacy and skills internally.  

Regarding automation, the research showed that under half currently use automated tools or technologies for data governance; 48% are exploring options, and 15% said they have no plans.

This shows us a clear appetite for data governance investment, particularly in automated tools and new technologies. These investments also reflect a proactive stance in adapting to technological changes and ensuring robust data management practices that support innovation and sustainable growth.

Looking ahead

Ultimately, the research showed that 86% of businesses recognised the growing importance of data governance over the next five years. This indicates that effective data governance will only increase its importance in navigating digital transformation and regulatory demands.

This means businesses must address challenges like integrating governance into operations, improving data quality, ensuring scalability, and keeping pace with evolving technology to mitigate risks such as compliance failures, security breaches, and data integrity issues.

Embracing automation will also streamline data governance processes, allowing organisations to enhance compliance, strengthen security measures, and boost operational efficiency. By investing strategically in these areas, businesses can gain a competitive advantage, thrive in a data-driven landscape, and effectively manage emerging risks.

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The Benefits of EV Salary Sacrifice: A Guide for Employers and Employees

As the UK government continues to push for greener initiatives, electric cars have become increasingly popular. The main attraction for both employers and employees is the EV salary sacrifice scheme.

By participating in an EV salary sacrifice scheme, both employers and employees can enjoy cost savings and contribute to environmental sustainability along the way! This article will delve into the specifics of how these schemes operate, the financial advantages they offer, and the broader positive impacts on sustainability.

We will provide a comprehensive overview of the mechanics behind EV salary sacrifice schemes and discuss the various ways in which they benefit both employees and employers, ultimately supporting the transition to a greener future in the UK.

What is an EV Salary Sacrifice Scheme?

An EV salary sacrifice scheme is a flexible financial arrangement that permits employees to lease an EV through their employer. The key feature of this scheme is that the leasing cost is deducted directly from the employee’s gross salary before tax and National Insurance contributions are applied. By reducing the taxable income, employees can benefit from substantial savings on both tax and National Insurance payments. This arrangement not only makes EVs more affordable for employees but also aligns with governmental incentives to reduce carbon emissions.

For employers, implementing an EV salary sacrifice scheme can lead to cost efficiencies as well. The reduction in National Insurance contributions on the employee’s reduced gross salary can offset some of the costs associated with administering the scheme. Additionally, such programmes can enhance the overall benefits package offered by the employer, making the company more attractive to prospective and current employees.

Benefits for Employees

1. Tax and National Insurance Savings

By opting for an EV salary sacrifice scheme, employees can benefit from reduced tax and National Insurance contributions. Since the lease payments are made from the gross salary, the taxable income decreases, resulting in substantial savings.

2. Access to Premium EVs

Leading salary sacrifice car schemes often provide access to high-end electric vehicles that might be otherwise unaffordable. Employees can enjoy the latest EV models with advanced features, contributing to a more enjoyable and environmentally friendly driving experience.

3. Lower Running Costs

Electric vehicles typically have lower running costs compared to traditional petrol or diesel cars. With savings on fuel, reduced maintenance costs, and exemptions from certain charges (such as London’s Congestion Charge), employees can enjoy significant long-term financial benefits.

4. Environmental Impact

Driving an electric vehicle reduces the carbon footprint and supports the UK’s goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Employees can take pride in contributing to a cleaner environment.

Benefits for Employers

1. Attract and Retain Talent

Offering an EV salary sacrifice scheme can enhance an employer’s benefits package, making it more attractive to potential recruits. It also helps in retaining current employees by providing them with valuable and cost-effective benefits.

2. Cost Neutrality

For employers, EV salary sacrifice schemes are often cost-neutral. The savings on National Insurance contributions can offset the administrative costs of running the scheme, making it an economically viable option.

3. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Implementing an EV salary sacrifice scheme demonstrates a commitment to sustainability and corporate social responsibility. This can improve the company’s public image and align with broader environmental goals.

4. Employee Well-being

Providing employees with a cost-effective means to drive electric vehicles can contribute to their overall well-being. With lower running costs and the convenience of driving a new EV, employees may experience reduced financial stress and increased job satisfaction.

How to Implement an EV Salary Sacrifice Scheme

1. Assess Feasibility

Evaluate whether an EV salary sacrifice scheme is feasible for your organisation. Consider the number of interested employees, potential cost savings, and administrative requirements.

2. Choose a Provider

Select a reputable provider that offers a range of electric vehicles and comprehensive support services. Ensure they can handle the administrative tasks and provide a seamless experience for both the employer and employees.

3. Communicate the Benefits

Educate your employees about the advantages of the scheme. Highlight the financial savings, environmental impact, and access to premium EV models. Provide clear guidance on how they can participate in the programme.

4. Monitor and Review

Regularly review the scheme’s performance to ensure it continues to meet the needs of your employees and the organisation. Gather feedback and make adjustments as necessary to enhance the programme’s effectiveness.


The EV salary sacrifice scheme offers a win-win situation for both employers and employees in the UK. With significant financial savings, access to premium vehicles, and a positive environmental impact, it’s an attractive option for forward-thinking organisations. By implementing such a scheme, employers can demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and employee well-being, while employees can enjoy the benefits of driving an electric vehicle at a reduced cost.

Adopting an EV salary sacrifice scheme is a step towards a greener, more sustainable future for everyone.

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Machine Learning Interpretability for Enhanced Cyber-Threat Attribution

Source: Finance Derivative

By: Dr. Farshad Badie,  Dean of the Faculty of Computer Science and Informatics, Berlin School of Business and Innovation

This editorial explores the crucial role of machine learning (ML) in cyber-threat attribution (CTA) and emphasises the importance of interpretable models for effective attribution.

The Challenge of Cyber-Threat Attribution

Identifying the source of cyberattacks is a complex task due to the tactics employed by threat actors, including:

  • Routing attacks through proxies: Attackers hide their identities by using intermediary servers.
  • Planting false flags: Misleading information is used to divert investigators towards the wrong culprit.
  • Adapting tactics: Threat actors constantly modify their methods to evade detection.

These challenges necessitate accurate and actionable attribution for:

  • Enhanced cybersecurity defences: Understanding attacker strategies enables proactive defence mechanisms.
  • Effective incident response: Swift attribution facilitates containment, damage minimisation, and speedy recovery.
  • Establishing accountability: Identifying attackers deters malicious activities and upholds international norms.

Machine Learning to the Rescue

Traditional machine learning models have laid the foundation, but the evolving cyber threat landscape demands more sophisticated approaches. Deep learning and artificial neural networks hold promise for uncovering hidden patterns and anomalies. However, a key consideration is interpretability.

The Power of Interpretability

Effective attribution requires models that not only deliver precise results but also make them understandable to cybersecurity experts. Interpretability ensures:

  • Transparency: Attribution decisions are not shrouded in complexity but are clear and actionable.
  • Actionable intelligence: Experts can not only detect threats but also understand the “why” behind them.
  • Improved defences: Insights gained from interpretable models inform future defence strategies.

Finding the Right Balance

The ideal model balances accuracy and interpretability. A highly accurate but opaque model hinders understanding, while a readily interpretable but less accurate model provides limited value. Selecting the appropriate model depends on the specific needs of each attribution case.

Interpretability Techniques

Several techniques enhance the interpretability of ML models for cyber-threat attribution:

  • Feature Importance Analysis: Identifies the input data aspects most influential in the model’s decisions, allowing experts to prioritise investigations.
  • Local Interpretability: Explains the model’s predictions for individual instances, revealing why a specific attribution was made.
  • Rule-based Models: Provide clear guidelines for determining the source of cyber threats, promoting transparency and easy understanding.

Challenges and the Path Forward

The lack of transparency in complex ML models hinders their practical application. Explainable AI, a field dedicated to making models more transparent, holds the key to fostering trust and collaboration between human and machine learning. Researchers are continuously refining interpretability techniques, with the ultimate goal being a balance between model power and decision-making transparency.

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