We’ve been collecting responses to our flexible working survey over the last few months: the results are revealing and say a lot about the nature of the modern Australian workplace.
How Common is Flexible Working?
Our Australian based survey of business and IT decision makers discovered that over 60% of organisations have flexible working policies and strategies for some staff roles, whilst over one quarter have those same policies for all staff.
Unsurprisingly, there is a very strong desire for flexible working (over 90%) with slightly over half of all respondents wishing to be location independent (being able to work from anywhere) and another 42% wanting to work from home at least one day per week.
Yet the gap between the survey respondent’s wishes and their daily reality is wide!
Most people would like the chance to work wherever they chose - in fact, over 90% of respondents would like to work from home or from any location. In reality, about only 1 in 2 of these people (45% of respondents) are able to do this today; of these almost 30% say they are location independent and can work from anywhere whilst just over 15% work from home at least one day per week.
About 30% remain tethered firmly to a desk and almost 17% are day extenders, working into the night and at weekends once they get home (but only 1.4% would like to be day extenders). So, the good news is that we are embracing flexible working and we're enabling staff to work longer hours. But there's still a lot of employees who would like to see a more flexible workplace.
The Benefits of Flexible Working
At an individual level, the survey respondents are quite clear that flexible working is about driving up personal productivity with 75% agreeing they would be more productive.
From the organisation's perspective, the main benefits of flexible working were found to be staff productivity, improved staff retention, business continuity and reducing office space.
The Barriers to Flexible Working
Somewhat surprisingly, technology was not seen as the primary barrier, with half of the respondents indicating that current technology was not a major impediment to more flexible working. The biggest barriers came from corporate culture and politics (over 30% seeing it as a major barrier) and the ability of executives to adapt their management style (almost 30% seeing it a s a major barrier.)
Similarly, respondents felt that current HR policies and legal risk were a challenge but less than 20% of respondents thought it was major issue and could be resolved.
Equally, some often quoted barriers to flexible working seem to concern respondents less than one might expect with Security (only 18% seeing it as a major barrier) and Remote support for users (14% seeing it as a major barrier) being seen as surmountable challenges by most.
When looking specifically at technology barriers to flexible working there is a clear focus on enabling personal devices as a corporate tool with almost 55% citing it as of significant value. The implication being that a BYOD or COPE strategy is an important underpinning to a flexible working platform
Current Technologies Used For Flexible working
For those organsiations that do allow flexible working there is a clear hierarchy of technology being provided: VPN access to corporate resources (72%) Presence/Instant messaging (66%) and Web conferencing (65%) are the key technologies already being provided. Desktop virtualisation and video conferencing whilst provided less frequently at the moment (currently deployed in slightly less than half of cases) are planned to be rolled out by a significant number of respondents and are likely to form the next wave technology deployment to support flexible working.
If you would like to find out more about flexible working please visit our Flexible Working page where you can download our latest whitepaper, which looks at:
- The drivers of flexible working
- The different flexible worker profiles that are emerging
- Building the business case for flexible working
- How to build a roadmap to flexible working that covers technology policy and the physical workplace.