Despite the growing popularity of flexible working, only 60% of UK businesses offer flexible working arrangements to their staff, despite one in four office workers wanting the chance to work around family commitments and from home.
However, according to an independent study commissioned recently by Polycom, Inc., remote working is something that could "become the norm” by 2022. The research found that amongst the 1000 UK professionals asked, the increase in new technologies adopted by employers has "heightened UK office workers’ expectations of how work should fit into their lifestyles”.
During the last ten years, employees working from home has almost doubled from 21% to 40% and employers offering parents the chance to work flexibly has risen from 28% to 44%. However, UK workers would like their hours to be more able to fit around partners, children and the time and cost of commuting.
This trend of flexible working is growing rapidly though, due mostly to new technologies being adopted by firms such as cloud and videoconferencing solutions. Face-to-face meetings and telephone calls are showing a steady decline as employees change the way they communicate and collaborate.
This has been given a boost by the growth in mobile computing; laptop use has tripled over the last decade to 46% this year, smartphone use has doubled and one in ten employees now use tablet devices for work.
"The adoption of video conferencing has increased significantly, with 26% using it ten years ago and 42% doing so now. Interestingly, more men than women use technology in the work context - something that hasn’t changed over the last ten years,” the survey found.
"Businesses have changed significantly over the past ten years thanks to technological innovation, but our survey findings show that the majority of employers still don’t provide their staff with enough flexibility,” said Polycom EMEA President Gary Rider.
He went on to say that flexible working benefits both workers and employers and further adoption would yield a "more productive workforce and the UK economy that needs to reduce the £8bn annual spend on congestion.”
New technologies such as Polycom’s RealPresence CloudAXIS Suite and those offered by Cisco means that enterprise videoconferencing and other collaboration tools should mean that employers should embrace these new ways of working.
"Not only has technology transformed the way we work and communicate, it’s also heightened our expectations of how work should fit into our lifestyles. Employees are demanding more flexibility and choice, and this trend will lead to significant changes in work practices over the next ten years,” said Matthew Ball, analyst at Canalys.He went on to say that based on current trends, most information employees will have the option to work from home by 2022, with the main drivers for this being social and videoconferencing on mobile devices.