UK flexible working held back by “traditional mind-set”, despite technology

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Three years after flexible working was made available to 20 million UK workers, the UK still lags behind other major developed economies in adopting collaborative remote working. Tim Stone, VP of Marketing for EMEA at Polycom, explains how organisations can migrate to remote working and realise the benefits that modern technology offers.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of UK businesspeople now work remotely but we do not use collaborative tools as widely as other countries, despite clear benefits. That was a key finding of a global survey Polycom recently conducted.

Less than half (46%) of the UK’s remote workers use collaborative tools daily. This is far lower than many leading economies, including Russia (61%), Australia (55%), Singapore (54%), United States (53%), Canada (51%) and France (49%).

So, three years after the UK government granted everyone the right to work remotely, many organisations appear to be culturally or technically prepared for effective remote working.

Tim Stone

Tim Stone

The technology is there to enable seamless, cordless, real-time video conferencing and touchscreen collaboration between teams, regardless of location and device, and yet many organisations haven’t kept up. This despite the clear benefits. For example, 38% of people use email “considerably less” in favour of the phone or instant messaging when provided with collaborative tools.

British working culture stuck in 20th Century

Business culture is a key issue – the nine-to-five mind-set very much still exists, and many workers are probably unaware they can ask for flexible hours – plus many organisations are involved in digital transformation programmes so remote working is delayed while firms establish what they want from their technology strategy.

What needs to happen? More organisations need to embrace the philosophy that “work is a thing you do, not a place you go”. Human Resources, Facilities Management, IT and the C-suite need to sit down together to create an employee-centric vision of what a flexible working environment would look like at their organisation, and talk to technology vendors who will show them the tools they need to make it happen.

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