Employers embracing flexibility

Nov 11 2004 by Brian Amble Print This Article

The government’s push towards more flexible working in Britain appears to be paying off as research finds that nine out of ten leading businesses now see flexible working as an established, accepted way of working.

A study by Citrix Systems into employee and board director attitudes towards flexible working and mobile technologies found that a positive attitude is also filtering down to staff from the boardroom.

Half of senior directors said that they have now embraced mobile working and rely on mobile devices like laptops and PDAs.

The research revealed that a quarter of workers are actually mobile and that this is on the increase.

But while support for mobile working is unanimous, it is very much a point solution for the lucky few rather than a strategic application for the whole workforce. Three quarters of large organisations say pure ‘mobile workers’ represent less than one fifth of their workforce

Six out of ten employees and senior directors when questioned claimed that mobile technologies have been critical to the transformation of their working culture. Seven out of ten also feel mobile tools and technologies could make a significant difference to the performance and profitability of the company.

Access to information is to be the key benefit of mobile working, with almost all (95 per cent) mobile workers having access to company email, eight out of ten having access to company databases and six out of ten enjoying access to corporate file sharing systems.

Half said that they could use their digital calendars, a quarter access financial applications but only one in seven had access to research tools.

Meanwhile, according to board directors questioned for the research, the issues holding back the widespread implementation of mobile working are cost, keeping pace with new technology and educating of staff in the use of relevant technology.

Earlier this year, however, research among HR managers found that the greater adoption of this sort of flexible working was being hampered because the overwhelming majority of HR departments still view remote working as a euphemism for shirking.

Many also cited perceived difficulties in managing remote employees as being the main barrier to its adoption

According to Citrix MD, Lewis Gee: "Putting theory into practice is often the issue for most businesses when it comes to mobile working, but this research highlights a significant step forward in both the adoption of, and confidence in, flexible working," said

"It’s even more reassuring that both employees and members of the board share the same positive views about its benefits. And, while it’s fair to say this is still a luxury for the few and an aspiration for the masses, with innovative solutions being introduced to allow mobile working cultures and practices to develop, this will change fast.”