By Lisa Joy
Offering employees the option to work from where they choose and when they choose results in better productivity and employee engagement, says study released Wednesday by Calgary-based Workshift and Rogers Communications. But it requires providing the required technology to do so.
Stone-Olafson Market Research was commissioned this spring by Rogers and Workshift to conduct a national survey to research the importance of flexibility to Canadian employees and the role of technology in employee engagement. The study was completed online, fielding 1,000 responses.
“Employees who have access to flexible work opportunities are significantly more engaged,” said Steve Van Binsbergen, vice-president solutions, Rogers Communications at a Calgary Economic Development event.
“In order to achieve this, employees must also be supported with the right mobile tools and technology,” he added. “Necessary solutions include a robust, redundant communications foundation; WiFi supporting flexibility within the office; mobility supporting anytime, anywhere access outside the office; and cloud-based tools supporting collaboration.”
The future of work has arrived with flexible hours, telecommuting, remote working and freelance, Van Binsbergen says.
“Employees have already left the building and companies that can figure out how to leverage it have a real opportunity to save money, attract and retain talent and improve productivity and engagement,” said Mathew Stone, co-founder of Stone-Olafson.
The survey shows 77 per cent of respondents said access to technology has a positive impact on how they feel about work and that there is an 89 per cent increase in high engagement if employees have flexible work locations. Ninety-seven per cent of all employees said they would like the opportunity to continue working remotely and having flexible hours.
The benefits to businesses that adapt to flexible work and provide employees with the correct tools and technology are tangible.
“Businesses have a lot to gain by understanding and finally accepting this inevitable transformation,” said Robyn Bews, executive director, Workshift, which works with businesses to promote and accelerate the adoption of flexible work programs.
“The research shows a very clear connection between enabling flexible work with stronger employee engagement. Organizations that maintain rigid definitions of work and avoid investing in technology that enables flexibility and collaboration risk the benefits associated with strong connections to their talented and engaged workforce.”
As an example of reaping the benefits of a flexible workspace, the B.C. government’s public service has developed workplace strategies to deal with an expected retirement of baby boomers and aims to attract and retain employees while adapting to a smaller and increasing mobile workforce.
They are redesigning office space, which is no longer based on hierarchy but on functionality, and incorporating flexible work to accommodate a growing mobile workforce.
“Drivers for change include employees, mobility, savings and sustainability,” said Robert MadDonald, team lead, workplace strategies and planning for the Government of B.C.
The ability for employees to have flexible work is more important than ever because the lines between personal and work time have blurred. The study shows that people aren’t always the most productive between the traditional 9 to 5 workday. The majority of those surveyed, 20 per cent, said their highest productivity time starts before they get to work and another 33 per cent said their productivity extends past the end of the work day.
“Work is no longer a place you go it is a thing you do,” said David Potter, marketing manager of GoToMeeting, Citrix. “Geography is becoming less important.”
Potter said millennials are driving this change that is here to stay and organizations need to be prepared or miss an opportunity and potentially cease to exist.
Likewise, Van Binsbergen agreed and said that the companies that survive are the ones that embrace this change.
Workshift made this infographic to recap the survey findings (click for a larger version):