Published Wednesday, September 26th, 2012, by Jo Disney - News and Features Editor, U.K.
A recent survey by US staffing firm Mom Corps adds yet more fuel to the flexibility-at-work fire. Conducted in July, the survey polled over 2,200 workers on their attitudes towards the elusive work-life balance, and found that 45% of respondents would willingly give up a portion of their salary in return for more flexibility at work.
Flexibility comes in numerous forms and may include flextime and working from home. Of those willing to trade part of their salary for greater flexibility, respondents said that they would happily accept an average wage drop of 9%. According to Mom Corps this is over 50% higher than last year’s result of 5.8%.
Interestingly, more than half of those polled said they would consider leaving work to start their own business as part of their quest for greater flexibility.
Furthermore just over half of respondents believe that they would be more productive if they had the chance to work from home. This particular result is backed up by a recent study by Stanford University into the effectiveness of working from home. The team at Stanford carried out a nine-month experiment with Chinese travel firm CTrip. They gave one group of call centre workers access to work from home, while the other group continued to work from the office. The homeworkers’ performance increased dramatically, rising by 13%, while attrition among homeworkers dropped by 50% compared to the office-based group. The satisfaction rate among homeworkers also increased.
Despite positive studies such as these, many firms are still unwilling to offer remote working as an option. This could be partly due to the nature of the company and its employees’ roles; but in many cases it’s down to a reluctance – and anxiety – about managing and monitoring remote teams. Company culture is usually to blame, as most supervisory staff have developed with traditional ‘line of sight’ management techniques and simply don’t know how to monitor remote teams. There are also communication worries, as firms are required to provide seamless network access, mobile technology, and the relevant tools to provide an effective home-working environment for staff.
But the workplace is changing. It may be a slow-moving change that could take years – even generations – to fully adapt. But it’s happening. There are now various training courses available to help both employees and managers adapt to distance working, and telecoms firms are offering specific communications and network packages to help companies bridge the home-office divide.
The International Data Corporation (IDC) state that one billion people worked from home in 2010 alone, and predict that over 37% of the world’s entire workforce will be classed as mobile workers by 2015.
Indeed, the mobile worker phenomenon is helping to shift attitudes towards remote working. As mobile technology improves, workers can step out of their traditional office and into a more productive mobile role. In response, business centers and co-working spaces are adapting their offering to accommodate the growing demands of the mobile worker community.
As the traditional office adapts in-line with changing attitudes towards mobile and remote working, it’s only a matter of time before greater flexibility at work becomes commonplace.