Workplace flexibility and remote working is being held back by a lack of mobile technology provided by employers, according to a new study by workplace solutions provider, Steelcase. The research of over 12,000 employees across 17 countries, carried out by Ipsos MORI, found that only 50 per cent of British workplaces currently accommodate remote working – six percentage points less than the global average – while fixed technology still exceeds mobile by 2:1 in UK offices.
The findings suggest that the so-called ‘remote working revolution’ – and its predicted efficiency savings – could be held back by a failure to invest in the tools and tech to make it a reality. Previous studies have shown that a “work from anywhere” culture could add up to £11.5bn per year to the UK economy.
Only 39 per cent of UK workers are provided with a laptop, compared to 77 per cent who have a desktop computer, found the study. Meanwhile, only 38 per cent are given a mobile telephone, compared to 91 per cent who have a landline.
As a result, nearly a third (29 per cent) of employees say that they aren’t satisfied with the IT and telephone equipment provided by their employer.
There are indications that UK employees are keen to work more flexibly, with 17 per cent saying they have already adopted nomadic working – spending less than 40 per cent of their time behind a desk – more than twice the global average. Meanwhile, nearly a quarter (24 per cent) report working remotely at least once per week with almost one in ten (nine per cent) doing so every day.
“With the array of innovative technology on the market today, it’s surprising that so many workers are still tied to their desks, with just a desktop computer and landline provided by their employer,” commented Bostjan Ljubic, VP Steelcase UK & Ireland. “While Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) can offer an alternative, this is not yet widely adopted in the UK. Only 31 per cent of British workers say they can bring their personal equipment to the office.”
“Our research has shown that the most engaged workers are those who have more control over their work experience, including the ability to work in the office, at home, or elsewhere – depending on their task, personality and work style. Yet, without the necessary tools to do so, employees can feel constrained, lacking the mobility and flexibility they need to do their best work.
“Studies have shown that increased engagement means greater productivity, innovation and employee retention; factors which impact business performance and ultimately the bottom line. With demand for remote working set to increase, employers would be wise to invest in the right tools and technology now, or they could be left behind,” he concludes.