We live in a world where the 9-5 office job is rapidly becoming obsolete. The office worker is no longer chained to a desk, thanks to the rapid rise and swift adoption of technologies which enable work to take place at home, on the move, or anywhere with an internet or mobile connection.
At least, that’s what the world would have you believe. According to the latest research from UC EXPO, many workers still aren’t aware that they have the right to request flexible working from their employers. Even more worryingly, many office-based workers say that not all employees have access to these seemingly universal policies. So what’s going on at an employee level? Is the flexible working revolution really as advanced as it seems?
A flexible revolution – embracing new working ideals
It can’t be denied that the workplace and attitudes towards the traditional office-based role is changing. In a sharp increase on previous years, 27% of UK office workers now regularly work outside their base, and just under that (22%) say that they have worked at home, remotely, or elsewhere with flexible hours more in 2015 than they did in previous years.
It’s clear that the option to work flexible hours is seen as a right nowadays, but interestingly, so is remote working. The right to request flexible working became law in 2014, but 74% of the UK’s office-based workforce think that requesting remote working should be a right too.
It’s not just the ability to ‘be your own boss’ which makes flexible working so attractive. 82% of UK workers are much more likely to take a job that offers flexible working benefits than one that doesn’t, which presents an issue for businesses that don’t adhere to this. Whilst some workers are excluded whose job roles do not require a strict 9-5 policy, the benefits of flexible working are more widely recognised than a year ago, with a whopping 90% of those surveyed citing flexible working as essential to maintaining a better work/life balance. So much so, in fact, that it is valued higher than any other benefits, including a season ticket loan and daily free breakfast!
What’s stalling the flexible phenomenon?
Despite the widespread acknowledgment and appreciation of flexible working policies, it seems that total adoption is still a long way away. The concerns of recent years are still prevalent, including questions around BYOD security and the ability to trust employees to actually work when they are out of the office on company time. 67% of UK office workers, in fact, believe that productivity levels either increase or stay the same when working remotely.
Although the concerns around productivity and security are decreasing, thanks to increasingly secure technologies available, a worrying number of UK office workers are still not aware of their right to request flexible working. In 2015, 50% of workers were unaware of this law, whereas in early 2016, around 39% are still unaware. So, despite a decrease, it’s still a significant proportion of the workforce who are potentially missing out on adopting the work style that suits them best.
The future of UC
Unified Communications technologies are helping to stimulate the growth of flexible working culture – most of us have used video conferencing at some point, in addition to other cloud-based collaboration tools. This is starting to become more sophisticated, and eventually, we will see a much more fluid working policy for the majority of UK businesses. As UC EXPO exhibitor Tim Bishop of Unify comments: “The office as we know faces an uncertain future. According to our research, 69% of knowledge workers say that having a single office as a physical workplace is less important than it was in the past, and 49% report that their organizations operate through technology and communication (such as virtual teams) rather than through offices and locations”.
Whilst Unify, and many others, argue that this will be a good thing, until the concerns around security are truly resolved, and we have a foolproof method of ensuring productivity and security when employees work remotely, there will always be something holding us back to some extent. That said, it’s clear that this is the future of the workforce – time for businesses and technology providers alike to get on board and embrace the change.
Written by Bradley Maule-ffinch, Director of Strategy at UC EXPO
About UC EXPO
UC EXPO is Europe’s largest unified communications & collaboration (UC&C) event, for those looking to find out how the latest unified communications can drive and support their business. The event showcases brand new exclusive content and senior level insights from across the industry. UC EXPO 2016, together with Unified Communications Insight (www.ucinsight.com) and the world’s largest UC&C LinkedIn group delivers news, insight and knowledge throughout the year. Attending UC EXPO 2016 will help to ensure business decisions are being made based on the latest best practice for improved communications and collaboration, and organisations are able to continue, or start their journey in enabling workforce mobility.
UC EXPO 2016 will take place on 19-20 April 2016, at Olympia, London.
For full details of the event, or to register for free, visit www.ucexpo.co.uk or follow UC EXPO on Twitter using the hashtag #UCEXPO.