FW1A new survey commissioned by Polycom has revealed the main benefits and challenges for employers and employees when it comes to adopting a flexible working culture. While results vary by country, there are three key trends that remain constant across the board. The vast majority of respondents (98%) agree that an anywhere working approach boosts productivity, as people can choose to work where they are most efficient. 92% of respondents also agree that video collaboration technology improves teamwork. Meeting colleagues via video helps keep the human interaction element that can sometimes lack when working remotely, enabling employees to develop better relationships. The survey also reveals that 62% of the global working population is working flexibly – more than ever before. Digital transformation is partly responsible, as it drives organisations to explore new ways of working at a faster pace. Firms are racing to innovate, develop a better working culture, and retain the best talent to remain competitive.

“We predicted that 2016 would be the ‘year of video’, and it’s satisfying to know that people are really seeing the benefits of working this way,” says Jim Kruger, CMO of Polycom, “The survey results also tell us that businesses need to offer video collaboration tools to enable the human contact that people crave.  Organisations that are able to offer flexible working practices and the right collaboration tools will be the winners in recruiting and retaining top talent.”

The UK is one of the countries that has seen more people embrace a flexible working approach. According to the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development, in May 2012 only 20% of UK workers worked from home regularly, and only 14% benefited from remote working. Polycom’s survey shows there has been significant transformation in working habits since then; at the end of 2016, 64% of UK workers were working flexibly on a regular basis. Another important development is the shift in attitudes towards flexible working: in 2012, two thirds of firms offered flexible working benefits to parents only. Now, 80% of companies in the UK offer flexible working benefits to all employees, according to Polycom’s survey. It’s clear that British workers are increasingly focused on getting a good work-life balance, with 75% of those surveyed highlighting a key benefit of anywhere working was getting their work-life balance under control. Commuting is also a big source of stress that UK employees would rather avoid: 30% of those surveyed listed ‘not commuting’ as the number one benefit of working flexibly.

FW4Yet, 66% of millennials are worried that they aren’t perceived as hard-working when they are not in the office. This is a big concern globally, shared by 62% of all respondents. For organisations to keep up with the fast-pace of digital transformation, there needs to be a shift in attitude, and a new approach to how people work and collaborate. By measuring performance based on outputs, and not hours worked, employees are reassured that management knows presenteeism does not equal good work ethic. Underlying this shift in work culture is technology. The right collaboration technology needs to be in place to enable teams to collaborate, and employees to have the same access to resources as if they were in the office.

“There is a stigma that remote workers are disconnected from the rest of the team, yet this study proves that they are more sociable and proactively reach out to develop strong relationships. The new technology tools that enable communication and collaboration are actually motivating workers to pick up the phone, seek face time and create lasting bonds. This is the upside of remote work we rarely talk about,” Jeanne Meister, Partner, Future Workplace.