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21 October 2016
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Flexible working is ‘key to staying competitive’

flexible working hours istock
Credit: istock

15 March 2016 | Marino Donati

More than a third of respondents in a survey of office workers say they believe their organisations would need to offer flexible working to stay competitive.


A study by digital experience consultancy Infomentum, found that 40 per cent of respondents want to work flexibly outside of a traditional office. But more than half of respondents (51 per cent) are not allowed to work flexible hours, with 57 per cent reporting that their employer would “not trust them to do a good job” if they worked outside the office.


The Beyond Digital report, which collated feedback from more than 1,000 UK office workers, says men are 12 per cent more likely to be allowed to work from home than women, as well as being 8 per cent more likely to secure flexible working hours.


The report concludes that the figures show “a worrying disconnect between current management and the expectations of the Gen C [digital native] workforce”, resulting from a combination of company cultures, budget restraints and lack of unified direction.

flexible working quote

The survey looks at how new technology could affect the workplace over the next five years. It reveals that 91 per cent of those surveyed believe that their businesses would no longer be competitive by 2020. Half believe that firms would have to invest in new technology to keep up. Just over 60 per cent of employees expect their own professions to become increasingly automated by 2020.


The survey adds that 65 per cent of respondents now use a tablet, and three-quarters use a desktop or laptop PC for less than five hours a day, while 56 per cent are using VOIP and video calls daily. Smartphones have overtaken laptops as the dominant office tech, says the study.


Infomentum concludes that an increased workload was most likely be driven by the mainstream use of flexible working technologies.


But it says there is also “unease” surrounding new technologies, with many firms simply “jumping on the bandwagon” rather than strategically considering how new technology will work for their business goals.


Vikram Setia, chief commercial officer at Infomentum, said that technological advancements were now happening almost constantly and businesses needed be more sensitive than ever to the way new technologies are affecting reputations and ultimately bottom lines.


“As we move towards 2020, this constant change is no longer something that businesses must prepare for, but rather a reality that all organisations must embrace,” said Setia. “Businesses, employees and even governments will all be affected.


“Attempting to fight against this torrent of change is to try and fight the future itself. Improvements in technology, automation and efficiency are coming, the only thing we as businesses can do is embrace this fact and attempt to lead the change.”