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With flexible working having gone from fringe benefit to mainstream acceptance in the past few years, a new study conducted on behalf of mobile network operator (MNO) Vodafone suggests that 75% of companies have now introduced some kind of flexible policy.
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The report, which drew responses from SMEs, public sector organisations and enterprises alike, claimed that the majority of businesses believe their performance has been enhanced by allowing employees to vary their hours or work from home.
It found that 61% of respondents said profits had increased, 83% said they had seen an improvement in productivity, and 57% said that adopting flexible working policies had been good for their external reputation.
According to Vodafone, rapid adoption of 4G data services, improvements to fixed-line broadband and take-up of cloud services were all playing a pivotal role, with 61% of respondents saying they used their home broadband service to access work applications, and 24% using a personal mobile data connection.
“Vodafone’s research reveals a profound and rapid shift in the modern workplace. Employers are telling us that flexible working boosts profits while their employees tell us they’re more productive,” said Nick Jeffery, Vodafone group enterprise chief executive.
“Central to all of this are the new technologies that are reshaping every sector, from high-speed mobile data networks and fixed-line broadband to the latest collaborative cloud services. We truly are in an era when work is what you do, not where you go.”
The report, which was produced by Morar – formerly Redshift Research – in September 2015, also explored why 20% of companies had not adopted any kind of flexible working policy.
Out of those businesses, 33% believed it would not suit their culture, 30% were concerned that flexible workers and office workers would not get along, 25% were worried about fair distribution of work, and 22% believed flexible workers would not work as hard. Nevertheless, 55% of them also said that employee morale would improve if they did introduce flexible working.
Vodafone also identified a number of variations between national attitudes towards flexible working across the countries it studied.
For example, the report showed that 71% of Spanish people used their own personal devices to work flexibly outside the workplace, compared with 38% in the UK and just 27% in privacy-conscious Germany – although at the same time 52% of Germans were not aware of their company’s security policy for flexible working. In the UK, meanwhile, only 8% of businesses were worried that flexible workers would not work as hard, compared to 33% in Hong Kong.
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