The way people work today is changing and flexible working initiatives are on the rise in businesses across the world.
Research from Global Workplace Analytics shows employees at Fortune 1,000 companies are not at their desks 50 - 60 percent of the time. However, as we enter 2017, 25 percent of companies still have no flexible working program, nor do they plan to implement one anytime soon. So what’s the hold up in our ever-connected world?
In the face of organizational change, there is of course, a whole host of legitimate concerns for business leaders to consider. The executive board is right to question motives and bring up worst-case scenarios, but with the rise of the Anywhere Worker and the modern workforce, there is less cause for concern and more call for action.
So here are the most common misconceptions about flexible working as we hear them from our customers, coupled with evidence to suitably debunk the myths and help drive your organizational decision making.
Myth #1: Productivity Will Drop
It may seem inevitable that allowing employees to “work from anywhere” invites them to take their chosen quota of duvet days and long weekends, ultimately decreasing productivity.
However, research has shown that having the ability to work from anywhere actually significantly boosts employee happiness (82.5 percent of respondents agree) and productivity (77.5 percent agree). It is no surprise that the happier your employees are, the more creative they can be (78.6 percent agree) but employee happiness also has a direct positive impact on the amount of work they get done each day. Happy employees are, on average, 12 - 20 percent more productive than their unhappy counterparts, so we can comfortably attribute flexible working to driving up the value each employee brings to the business.
Myth #2: It's Difficult To Manage Remote Teams
Gone are the days when intranet security and shared drive access could ruin your day as a remote worker. Email attachments no longer get out of control and workers aren't weighed down by multiple mobile phones. Today there are much simpler ways to manage remote teams working outside of the office.
There is now an abundance of fantastic tools to enable your remote teams to communicate seamlessly and collaborate on projects. Cloud-based apps for project management, conference calling, file sharing and sales means that your team can be proactive, connected and fully accountable wherever they are.
Myth #3: Technology Overhaul is Huge
No CIO wants to roll out a costly, time-consuming headache of a project, no matter the benefits it brings, and it may seem that moving to a flexible working model could be just that.
However, with the surge in fully cloud-based applications, that simply isn’t the case. These cloud-based solutions are typically very quick to roll out (we’re talking hours and days rather than months and years), and we’ve seen an increasing shift in the user interface towards a consumer product style. Applications are easy to use and far more beautiful than what we were previously used to at work (ahem, pre-Lightning Salesforce). This means your employees intuitively use these apps right away and can maximize their ROI.
Let’s not forget, pricing models are also increasingly more straightforward and easy to manage and scale. What’s not to like?
Myth #4: Loss of Company Culture
You probably have a people ops team to answer to who are concerned about maintaining a robust, positive company culture when half of the employees are out of office at any given time. It’s understandable to have concerns about a decline in company culture when adopting a flexible work schedule because there will be far fewer times when the majority of a business or team are physically together. As more businesses are moving to flexible schedules, though, these concerns are becoming a thing of the past.
Healthy company culture demands a positive and engaged workforce and again, with flexible working comes increased happiness and productivity from your employees. Voila! When workers are spending less time commuting and more time getting their stuff done, they are freed up to help out and talk to other teams, enjoy office activities, and simply might be more willing to spend their own social time with colleagues who they don’t see every day.
Company culture isn’t just about team building activities (although we all love away days and free food). Culture is about fostering a happy community of people who are empowered and inspired enough to dedicate a large part of their waking hours to achieving company goals. With 89 percent of people saying they prefer to work outside of the office at least one day per week, it is time to start connecting working outside of the office with a sense of community inside the office.