Flexible working is the path forward for small businesses

The stigma around flexible working has diminished: 65% now feel comfortable requesting to work from home and collaborative tools like instant messaging mean employees can connect wherever they are in the world.

Maintel, the fast-growing provider of managed communications services, today announced the results of a study on flexible working preferences in the UK. The study polled 1,000 employed adults in the UK, ages 18 and over.

The study revealed that today’s multi-generational workforce prefers flexible working to traditional office hours and location. Flexible work policies are perceived as an important workplace benefit, with 73 per cent of respondents citing the company they work for has good flexible work policies in place.

Indeed, 64 per cent of remote workers don’t feel micromanaged, and 58 per cent would take the opportunity to spend even less time in an office, if it were available.

In addition, the survey found that 60 per cent of respondents believe technology can replace in-person interaction in the workplace. Yet there remain challenges with flexible work, including indifference regarding the security of company data (66 per cent) and distractions at home (31 per cent).

‘Employee expectations for when, where, and how they work continue to evolve. This means businesses’ management, policies, and IT systems must do the same,’ says Rufus Grig, chief technology officer at Maintel.

‘The real trailblazers put their employees’ working styles first, and use technology to back that up. For some companies this still requires a culture shift, judging employees on outcomes rather than attendance.

‘Equipping employees with the right solutions to successfully work remotely and keep company data safe is critical. This enables effective employee performance, recruitment and retention, delivering a good ROI in technology investments.’

Key research findings

Flexible work is the future:
Almost three quarters of respondents to the survey (73 per cent) think that their company has a good flexible work policy in place.

Two thirds (66 per cent) would feel comfortable asking their manager if they could work more flexibly.

Those between the ages of 25 – 44 and working outside of London were mostly likely to feel comfortable asking their manager for flexible work options.

Almost six in ten (58 per cent) said that they would take advantage of the opportunity to spend less time in an office environment.

The 55+ age group were more likely to take advantage of working away from the office than those between the ages of 18 – 24.

Those living outside of London were more likely to take advantage of not working in an office environment.

The implications of flexible work

60 per cent of respondents believe technology can replace in-person interaction in the workplace.

Two thirds (66 per cent) of those polled say that they do not worry about the safety of company data when working remotely.

Distractions were the greatest challenges when working from home (31 per cent), followed by fixing IT problems (30 per cent), getting hold of colleagues (28 per cent), and feeling isolated (25 per cent).

The greatest distractions when working from home were television (30 per cent), household appliances e.g. dishwasher, washing machine (24 per cent), and household chores (20 per cent).

Further reading on flexible working

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the Smallbusiness.co.uk and Growthbusiness.co.uk titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the Express.co.uk.

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Flexible Working