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Workday Flexibility Offers Both Challenges and Opportunities for Employers

November 04, 2015

Flexibility in working environments is increasingly a differentiator for companies looking to retain top talent. However, a company’s technology strategy must be properly aligned in order to get the most out of the borderless office.

Research from Softchoice, fittingly entitled “Death of the Desk Job,” has uncovered that offering the ability to work remotely more often can be a particularly powerful employee retention tool. A full 78 percent of employees highly value the ability to access work from outside the office, and 70 percent would leave their job for one that offers more workday flexibility.

“Technology has made it easier than ever for employees to stay connected to the workplace anytime, anywhere and, as a result, employees increasingly enjoy more flexibility over their schedules,” said David MacDonald, President and CEO at Softchoice. “We found most people really value the freedom to customize their workday – to be able to run an errand, schedule an appointment, or pick up their kids from school, and catch up on work when it suits them. Organizations that enable that kind of flexibility have become highly desirable places to work.”

Many companies are getting on board: the study found 55 percent of employees have more flexible work hours than they did two-to-three years ago. In addition, 75 percent of employees said they’re able to keep more family, social and personal commitments because they can remotely access work anytime they need. As such, hours are changing too: a full 61 percent of employees prefer working the equivalent of an eight hour workday broken up over a longer day, rather than in a single 9-to-5 block.

Image via Shutterstock

As far as the technology implications go, employees don’t think their desk, or even their office, is where they do their best work: 62 percent of employees believe they’re more productive working outside the office. And that means, most often, using a mobile device or non-corporate-issued device to access company networks, applications and content.

This can contribute to greater productivity, but it also means that the boundaries between home and work are blurring. Consider: 57 percent of employees work remotely on personal or sick days, and 44 percent of employees worked on their last vacation.

And accordingly, this can also lead to security implications, and a lack of IT control—for instance, employees may be logging into corporate networks via notoriously insecure public hotspots.

In all, the survey found that only 59 percent of employees receive a device from their employer for work in and out the office, and just 24 percent of organizations have set clear policies and expectations around appropriate work activities after business hours.

“Though many organizations enable remote work by issuing corporate devices, technology alone isn't enough to fulfill evolving employee needs,” MacDonald said. “Not everyone has the same definition of work-life balance, so it’s up to the employer to set clear expectations around acceptable work activities beyond business hours.”

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

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