Employees have been empowered to vary their hours and work from home or on the move.
A survey by Vodafone draws on responses from small and medium-sized enterprises, public sector organisations and multinational corporations (MNCs) in ten countries.
Respondents believe performance has been enhanced as a result of flexible working, with 61 per cent saying their company’s profits increased, 83 per cent reporting an improvement in productivity; and 58 per cent believing that flexible working policies have had a positive impact on their organisation’s reputation.
The rapid adoption of high-speed mobile data services, fixed-line broadband and cloud services is playing an integral role in this workplace revolution; 61 per cent of respondents now use their home broadband service to access work applications and 24 per cent use a mobile data connection via their smartphone, tablet or laptop with a broadband dongle.
The survey also explores the reasons why 20 per cent of respondents say their organisation has not yet implemented a flexible working policy.
Of those reporting that there was no such policy in place, 33 per cent say they believe it would not suit the culture of their organisation, 30 per cent are concerned about friction between employees working flexibly and those who did not do so, and 25 per cent find that work would be unfairly distributed between flexible and non-flexible groups of employees.
Furthermore, almost a quarter (22 per cent) believe employees would not work as hard if allowed to adopt flexible working patterns and technologies.
While the minority of respondents without flexible working policies in place are clear on the reasons why their organisations had not yet pursued these, even within this group there is a clear sense that reversing their organisation’s position would deliver benefits.
Some 55 per cent of employers without flexible working policies in place agree that employee morale would improve if these were to be introduced.
Just under half (44 per cent) say they believe productivity would improve as a result, and 30 per cent believe profits would increase.
In terms of international differences, 71 per cent of Spanish employees surveyed use their own smartphone to work flexibly outside the workplace compared with 38 per cent in the UK and 27 per cent in Germany.
Only 8 per cent of UK employers surveyed would be concerned about employees not working as hard as a consequence of flexible working policies compared with 33 per cent in Hong Kong.
Just over half (52 per cent) of German employees surveyed say they are not aware of their company’s security policy regarding flexible working compared with 23 per cent of those in India.
There are marked differences between age groups in the workplace, with the new generation instinctively adopting technologies such as cloud services, advanced messaging and video conferencing that are central to flexible working.
Some 72 per cent of 18-24 year olds believe that flexible working would improve the quality of their work. However, that proportion falls to 38 per cent among respondents over 55.
Vodafone group enterprise chief executive Nick Jeffery says, ‘Employers are telling us that flexible working boosts profits while their employees tell us they’re more productive. 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.’
Further reading on flexible working
See also: Flexible ways of working