European execs embrace flexibility

2005

Businesses across Europe have embraced the concept of flexible working, with almost unanimous support from senior executives that it delivers increased productivity and motivation as well as revenue.

Research commissioned by Citrix Systems found that both C-level executives (CEOs, CFOs, CIOs) and employees below board level felt that that the ability to access corporate information wherever the user might be will become increasingly ubiquitous.

Executives in all the countries surveyed believed that today's market environment would lead to increased flexible and mobile working, with most respondents claiming that there would be either a steady or slight growth in the adoption of mobile working practices in the coming years.

Norwegian companies were most sure that they would be increasing the number of hours working outside the office, with French respondents showing the greatest level of cynicism.

The benefits of working flexibly were hailed throughout the continent - although some countries were more enthusiastic than others.

Germany and France were more sceptical than most, while Ireland, together with the Netherlands and the Nordic countries, saw the phenomenon in the most positive light.

Increased sales revenues, reduced technology costs, improved customer service and better external communications were other key benefits cited in the survey.

But the enthusiasm was also tempered by concerns. Notably, employees were more worried about missing the social fabric of the office environment and self motivation, whereas their superiors were more concerned with cost and data security.

French and Belgian directors were the most worried about the effect that flexible working would have on staff management.

However most of those surveyed had a very narrow perspective on what remote working entails. The majority believed that they only required access to both e-mail and digital calendars, whereas the need to see other corporate resources that could be made available - such as company databases and research tools - was minimal.

"The study demonstrates that access is a key issue in business today," commented Stefan Sjöström, vice president of EMEA at Citrix Systems.

"As an increasing number of companies undertake business transactions outside the four walls of their own office, they need to be equipped with the most up-to-date information to make sound business decisions.

Both employees and board level executives seem to be convinced of the benefits to their businesses, and so it should not be long before we see a more mainstream adoption of more flexible working practices."