Conversations about the role of flexible working have shifted. It’s no longer enough for companies to offer employees the option to either work from home or the office. Employees want to work from anywhere.
Companies that want to attract and retain top talent, and ensure teams are highly productive, need to adapt their culture and technology to accommodate this shift in attitudes. And this is where the IT department can solidify its role as a valued contributor to the success of a company, by implementing technologies that enable secure and remote collaboration.
According to a recently commissioned Polycom survey, 24,000 respondents across 12 countries indicate that nearly two-thirds of today’s global workforce take advantage of the anywhere working model. This is a significant shift since May of 2012 when only 14% of employees benefited from remote working.
The survey results also provide insights into some of the concerns among companies in moving forward with the anywhere working model. Two significant concerns are a lack of trust and the perception that employees are not working as hard when they are not in the office.
Also, among the 45-60-year-old age group, 59% worry that working anywhere will cause them to work longer hours. The fear of being always connected to work and overworking is a significant deterrent for this age group.
A good first step for companies to overcome the trust and perception concern is to ensure workers are measured by output and not by the hours they have worked, commonly referred to as ‘presenteeism.’ Countries like Brazil lead the pack here with 80% of employees adopting the anywhere working model, and 64% respondents use video to communicate several times a day.
When respondents were asked how their companies could improve trust and perceptions with the anywhere working model, the most popular recommendations were to:
- Equip workers with technology that is easy to use and which connects them to their colleagues
- Ensure the same policies are applied to everyone in the business, regardless of seniority or their situation
- Provide guidelines on how to manage working from anywhere
91% of those surveyed agreed that technology is a key factor in improving relationships and fostering better teamwork. This suggests that investing in the right technologies, in particular video collaboration, to get the most out of individuals and teams can help solve the lack of trust and perception concerns. And this is where the IT department can become a difference maker as they can implement technologies, such as video conferencing, to ensure colleagues can seamlessly collaborate wherever they are.
As Jeanne Meister, Partner at Future Workplace states:
“There is a stigma that remote workers are disconnected from the rest of the team, yet this study proves that they are more sociable and proactively reach out to develop strong relationships. The new technology tools that enable communication and collaboration are actually motivating workers to pick up the phone, seek face time and create lasting bonds. This is the upside of remote work we rarely talk about.”
Intelligent Energy, a power technology company that specializes in efficient and clean energy is an example of a company that has greatly benefited from IT’s assistance in implementing video conferencing for globally dispersed teams.
With over 300 employees located in the UK, US, Japan, and India, the company faced a challenge of being able to connect its team of dispersed engineers. The use of video conferencing technology has played a major part in fast-tracking product development and eliminating collaboration silos. Engineers can effectively, and efficiently, discuss complex CAD designs and schematics.
Video conferencing is also used externally to collaborate with customers in real-time. Customers can connect with Intelligent Energy employees early on in the design process, which eliminates the need for customer visits. This saves time and money as issues are solved quicker versus sending pictures and drawings via email.
With the integration of Microsoft Lync and Polycom RealPresence video solutions, video conferencing has not only been instrumental in engineering and customer support, but also across every line of business. Teams can make informed decisions faster through a secure and reliable platform, which helps drive revenue growth.
“We have found there is no better way to defy distance than to have a face-to-face conversation using video conferencing. It has allowed us to go to market faster and given us a clear competitive advantage, as demonstrated by the recent successful launch of UppTM, our game changing personal energy device.” – Julian Hughes, Development Director at Intelligent Energy
Anywhere working is the model of today and the future. The companies that have implemented this model will attract and retain the quality talent needed to win in the marketplace. And IT teams can help by incorporating collaboration technologies, such as video, that ensure employees can work from anywhere as if it is an extension of the office.