Work isn’t a place you go - it’s a thing you do. So says Peter Hogg, UK cities director at Arcadis, and his opinion is backed up by a slew of recent surveys into the link between flexible working and productivity.
According to one, conducted by the Institute of Leadership and Management, 65 per cent of UK managers feel flexible working helps commitment and motivation, with 82 per cent believing it improved productivity. So why aren’t more organisations embracing flexible and remote working?
One answer is that they simply do not have to. Until 2014, remote working was only available to those who had caring responsibilities and although a universal right to ask is now in place, establishing it as a “request” merely gives organisations the opportunity to say “no”. For any firm which believes that real work can only be done at the office, there is still a list of eight official reasons why an employer can deny a request for flexible working.
The Dynamic Workforce report, however, makes it clear that there is very little excuse for inadequate technology to be one of those reasons. Future-facing companies could, in theory, already make use of augmented reality (AR), 3D printing and smart home hubs to make working remotely just as - if not more - productive as working in the office. For those business leaders who fail to see how any of these tools can apply to their own workforce, we invite you to put on your AR glasses and take a tour of your potential home office in 2028.
Back in 2018 and broadband speed in the average UK home has increased by 3.6 times since 2012 and a flight of tools have come about to make communication and collaboration easier than ever.
An omnichannel approach to communication means that remote workers can be integrated into daily company life, while also maintaining the flexibility they need. Unifying voice channels, email and video conferencing under one key strategy makes collaboration simple, with tools like instant messaging helping replicate the social contact which makes work enjoyable.
And herein lies another reason why business leaders might be reticent to applying blanket flexible working policies: workforce integration. Even if you can trust that your remote workers are working, how can you ensure that they are considered part of the team? A recent survey by Powwownow found that 56 per cent of employees feel that this is an area where their managers need particular training.
This is just one of the many ways in which larger organisations can learn from smaller, more agile ones. Others include learning when to switch off, making sure you are equipped with the tools of the future, and - where possible - borrowing from radically different business models. For the full list of lessons, collated from the advice of dozens of business experts, plus much more on the positives and pitfalls of flexible working, download the Dynamic Workforce report and bring your business into the future.