Employees Say Lack Of Technology Is Preventing Flexible Working

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Just 23 percent of employees have taken advantage of government flexible working legislation

A lack of adequate technology has been cited as one of the main reasons why more workers are not taking advantage of new government legislation that grants the right to request flexible working.

Since June last year, any employee in the UK can request the ability to work flexibly and employees must deal with such applications in a “reasonable manner”. Requests can be rejected if there is a good reason but employers must hold a meeting with the applicant and there is an appeals process if the two parties disagree.

According to a study by O2 Business, 54 percent of workers are aware of the new rules, but just 23 percent are benefiting from the new regulations. A lack of trust and the absence of a business culture that would allow for such policies are cited by many as barriers, but a fifth say the technology simply isn’t in place.

Lack of tools

Wi-Fi Coffee Laptop © Sergej Khackimullin - Fotolia.com“It’s encouraging to see more people becoming aware of the right to request legislation since it came into force in June,” said Paul Lawton, general manager of SMB for O2 Business. “However, our research shows that the pressure to be seen in the office and a lack of tools to enable remote working are still preventing the benefits that working flexibly brings, such as improved morale, high levels of employer loyalty and productivity gains.”

O2 says cloud-based tools like Box and Office 365 can help employees to be productive away from the office and promotes remote working internally following trials held at the operator’s main office in Slough in 2012.

“At O2 we actively encourage our own employees, customers and other organisations to embrace flexible working, so they can be as productive and efficient as possible no matter where they are,” added Lawton. “There is now a great choice of business technology and tools available to make this way of working commonplace in 2015 and beyond.”

Industry support

Separate research carried out by Samsung UK last December found there is demand for flexible working among both employees and workers, a quarter of whom would sacrifice a pay increase for the privilege. However despite businesses understanding the benefits, a lack of trust is preventing the trend from taking hold.

Despite this, there is a belief within the mobile industry that employers will eventually have no choice but to provide the tools and policies that can free workers from their desks.

“Businesses need to equip employees with the tools required to do their job best, from wherever and on whatever device, therefore becomes more relevant,” said Phil Mottram, Vodafone UK enterprise director. “By embracing new and better ways of working, and by leveraging both fixed and mobile technology, companies can unearth even greater opportunities for efficiency within areas such as frontline workers, customer service or in the reduction of office space.

“This is a trend that is set to increase throughout 2015 as businesses of all kinds continue to look for ways to drive efficiencies, as economic conditions continue to be tough.”

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