Flexible working practices and how they are being held back by poor tech

During the 20th century, the workplace began as a physical, static place

Employers required their employees to be present at the workplace for a set number of hours each day, constraining work to within set times and locations. How much has really changed and is technology helping or hampering?

We have to understand and accept that at least during the first part of the 20th century, the necessary technology did not exist or was not as widely available as it is today.

Today, technology enables employees to work from anywhere, with valuable skills becoming out of date if they aren’t regularly and constantly maintained. Unfortunately, this technology has blurred the boundaries between working hours and personal time. The old model of complex hierarchies within companies are being replaced by flexible team-based models designed for adaptability, changing the definition of “worker” and “employee”.

More than a third of UK workers already regularly complete work from home, choosing working hours which fit around their personal lives. Technology has enabled this, allowing employees to choose their own working hours, encouraging a notable boost in productivity.

Employees who are willing to approach their job with a flexible mindset are typically more valued by employers. Flexibility, for both employers and employees, involves the willingness and ability to respond to working conditions and expectations changing. Flexible working allows employees to some extent to manage their own working hours, in addition to when and where they work.

It has been documented that as many as 8 out of 10 employers admit to an inability to update their technology services quickly enough, thus limiting their ability to compete with rival businesses. For this reason, a number of employers have since introduced a “bring your own device to work” policy. This enables a more flexible working environment, including the flexibility in being able to work from home.

Many organisations are finding that dated budgeting models are hindering the update to a more flexible, agile workforce. Businesses are always looking for cost-effective and flexible solutions, which will enable efficiency and productivity. When firms were asked what barriers they felt there were to creating the perfect agile space for their employees, the issues cited included cost, security and compliance worries, as well as legacy technology.

Conversely, 90% of employees also listed IT user experience as being important in attracting and retaining staff.

It has been predicted that in the future, workplaces will need to be redesigned as digital, collaborative spaces wherein employees are encouraged to use their own devices, working when and from wherever they choose. There is clearly still some way to go.

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