Flexible working can boost productivity

Most employees believe their lives would improve if they could work more flexible and a majority of existing flexible workers believe they work more productively away from the office, according a new study across 15 European countries.

The study, that was reported on wanobe.com and commissioned by Microsoft Corp and carried out by Vanson Bourne, also shows that it’s small businesses leading the way in better meeting employee desires to have greater flexibility in deciding where and when to work.

However, even though the majority of office workers want to work more flexibly, it appears 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.

The question the study raises is whether by not enabling the flexibility that working employees demand, larger and medium-sized businesses are missing out on the opportunity to increase their productivity and attract and retain great talent.

A conclusion from reading the study us that a key to success is about creating a corporate culture of trust and technology access. And businesses need to ensure that people can access the right kind of technology with IT support and creating a culture that trusts staff to be productive away from the office.

“Organisations that will be successful in the future are those that break down the barriers between people, workplace and technology and establish a culture of trust.” said Klaus Holse Andersen, vice president of Western Europe for Microsoft. “This means empowering people by providing them with a workplace that facilitates flexibility, self-direction and engagement and enabling them with the technology and tools that help them to be productive wherever they are. To bring the vision of a new world of work to life, leadership teams need to establish a culture that is focused on what individuals achieve, rather than how long they spend in the office.”

City authorities in Barcelona, Spain, have already taken initiatives to help their employees work more flexibly, including planning a web portal to help mobile workers find ‘third places of work’ such as hotels or coffee shops that provide internet access, printers and other resources.

“Various studies have demonstrated the positive impact mobile working has on a company — reduced time lost in travel, improved customer service, fewer greenhouse gas emissions, increased productivity, better work-life balance.” said Francisco Rodriguez, director of Telecommunications for the City of Barcelona.

You can discover more about information on Microsoft’s vision of a “new world of work” here.