Emerging technologies fill our lives. Business processes have been improved to make organizations more efficient, and social media has made business communication beyond the geographic boundaries with ease. Email, WhatsApp, Internet, social networks, virtual forums are the new channels that are changing our habits. All these technology revolutions have changed the traditional role of the employee.
To quickly react to this technology change and obtain competitive advantages, many companies are already taking advantage of resources that already exist within their organization to leverage new technology, and support their employees to place value on the business processes through flexible work.
Flexible work is a model to enable each employee to decide when and from where they work. Work is no longer a place to go, but something to do. Flexible work is not a new thing; it is a daily routine for people who work in the transnational corporations. They often need to work collaboratively with their co-workers around the world through virtual work environments.
The benefits for organizations that implement flexible work model is twofold – on the one hand, it increases productivity and organizational effectiveness; on the other, reduce the associated costs of the physical space occupied by companies (office rental, energy, etc.)
For workers, flexible work means a better balanced work-life. It promotes a more comfortable working environment, improve productivity, increase employee motivation and end up it can foster innovation and involvement.
The driving force of the flexible work model is technology. Right now, most employees have their connected mobile devices for their personal life and entertainment. Mobile devices such smartphone, laptop and tablet have changed the way we live, we shop, and we communicate. Obviously those technologies can also be embraced to transform the way we work.
Today, mobile solutions and cloud computing have been introduced in many organizations, allowing their employees to access information from anywhere and with any device, to be more productive and more efficient.
According to the 2015 Workplace Flexibility Study, a national survey of 1,087 professionals, both employed and unemployed, in addition to 116 HR professionals, 65% of employees (67% of job seekers) say that their manager expects them to be reachable outside of the office:
- 9% by email (7% for job seekers at their previous job);
- 23% by phone (27% for job seekers); and
- 33% by email and phone (34% for job seekers).
From the HR perspective:
- 64% expect their employees to be reachable outside of the office on their personal time;
- 18% by email;
- 3% by phone; and
- 26% by both email and phone.
As shown on the results, most employees already spent part of their time working on their business outside the office, using different devices from multiple locations. In other word, “flexible work” is happening, but in the way that requires employees being flexible in their person time.
Flexibility allows companies to retain talent. Creative companies should add a twist to their business model and think about flexible work arrangements for their employees.