Small businesses better meet employees’ demands to have greater flexibility in deciding when and where to work, according to a European study by Microsoft.
The study, commissioned by Microsoft Corp and conducted by consultants Vanson Bourne, interviewed 1,500 workers across 15 European countries on their attitudes towards flexible working. It revealed that even though the majority of office workers want to work more flexibly, the larger the organisation, the less likely its employees are enabled to do so.
Half of the people participating in the study said they lacked access to the most basic technology tools that would enable them to work away from the office. While about one-quarter of employees in small businesses regularly work away from the office, only nine per cent of staff in companies with 500 or more employees do so, it found. However, small organisations were the most likely to allow flexible working, with more than two-thirds doing so; one-third had a policy and technology support in place. Eighty per cent of respondents that work for a large organisation do their overtime at the office, compared with only 61 per cent of those who work for small businesses and one quarter of employees in large organisations cannot access the technology and systems away from the office, while only 16 per cent in small businesses face that problem.
According to a recent white paper from Microsoft UK’s Hybrid Organisation initiative, barriers to new ways of working often occur in the middle layers of business. Another barrier is technology – only 19 per cent of employees questioned said they find their IT team “very helpful” in providing technology support for flexible working. In addition, more than half of all workers said they don’t have access to a company laptop or mobile email device. Some 43 per cent of all office workers and one third of those working for a large enterprise use either a personal laptop or mobile device for email access. Microsoft says the lack of mobile technology may explain why 68 per cent of employees who work overtime each week do so from the office.
The study also found: