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The UK is on the verge of a flexible working ‘tipping point’ – when working away from the office becomes more common than working solely from a desk, 9am-5pm, according to a new report produced by Lancaster University’s Work Foundation.
Based on in-depth interviews with academics, business leaders and the public sector and a survey of 500 managers, the Foundation says 2017 is the time when over half of organisations in the UK are likely to have adopted flexible working. It also predicts that over 70% of organisations will have followed suit by 2020.
The paper – ‘Working anywhere: A winning formula for good work?’ – was commissioned by Citrix and shows that there is still much to be done to address attitudes towards flexible working, ensuring employees are working smarter, rather than longer.
More than a third of managers believe implementing mobile working will result in them working longer hours, one in five say it makes them feel disconnected from their team and 28% felt it could block them from overseeing the work of others.
Alongside this, a quarter claimed all work in their organisation is currently carried out in the company premises, which the Foundation says suggests a cultural barrier blocking working ‘on the go’ that requires a change of mindset to overcome.
The report also reveals that managers believe implementing flexible working will create significant work for the HR department with three quarters claiming it will be challenging for their organisation, 84% believing it will require changes to performance management and over four in five (82%) believing it will require changes to employment terms and conditions.
The study suggests the most successful forms of mobile working will be achieved when the benefits to the organisation and the individual are aligned and enshrined in a formal agreement. As a result, it says, implementing flexible working requires three key commitments: leadership, a focus on outputs rather than presenteeism and hours worked and careful planning and implementation. The Foundation says: “It is critical to ensure that individuals are comfortable with their technology and recognise individual preferences.”
Jacqueline de Rojas, area VP Northern Europe, Citrix, said: “Employers have a key role to play if the UK is to fulfill its potential as a digital nation, ensuring that the right technology is in place and by appointing inspirational leaders to encourage a smart, flexible approach.
“Creating a more balanced and productive workforce requires a change of expectations from employers – taking the focus away from physical presence in an office and instead placing the emphasis on delivery, productivity and trust.
“We are on the cusp of real, positive change – not only improving the lives of employees but enhancing business performance as well.”
In addition, the report shows managers see the benefits of flexible working: two fifths believe that mobile working allows them to get more work done, 42% cited feeling more trusted and over a third said that mobile working is essential for their work / life balance and reduces time spent travelling.