Guest Blog By Bradlee Allen, Product Evangelist, Fuze
We’re experiencing a fundamental shift in the world of work, driven by technology advancements and a rapidly-changing worker mindset. Work is no longer “where we are”—it’s “what we do.”
Demand for flexible working, open office cultures, and a positive work-life balance has never been stronger. Don’t be fooled by the hype around millennials either. These expectations are not exclusive to a particular age bracket or generation—they are emerging across every level of the working world.
Adapting and evolving work environments, practices, and cultures to align with the demands of the workforce has become critical not only to attract new people, but to keep hold of the loyal, talented workers you have invested in and nurtured.
The demand for “work from anywhere”
Fuze research carried out with 6,600 knowledge workers shows that 97 per cent are present in a company office at least some of the time and for more than half (53 per cent) it’s their only place of work.
Yet workers are challenging this status quo. Given the choice, only 20 per cent of workers want to be based in the company office all the time and the vast majority (79 per cent) want to work outside of the company office on a regular basis.
Most workers would also be willing to make sacrifices for flexibility. A quarter would give up company benefits like healthcare, one in five would take a pay cut, and 54 per cent would consider moving jobs to gain the freedom to work how and when they want.
Clearly the days of a work-life balance being seen as an employee ‘perk’ are behind us. Organisations need to see this way of working as a default expectation and the only way to gain and retain workers.
The Fuze research shows that people who achieve a healthy balance between work, hobbies, family responsibilities, and even pets are those most likely to bring fresh perspectives and drive creativity. This is because staff who are given a choice about when and how they do their job will come back to work more relaxed and with a fresh mindset. It also means that they’ll have more time for those moments of relaxation when creativity is most likely to spark.
Encouraging mental wellbeing amongst your staff ensures that when they do come into the office, they will be the best version of themselves. If your staff are happy and motivated, they are more likely to continue working for you. Therefore, businesses that encourage this mindset will reap the rewards of productivity and stay ahead of the competition.
Building individual ways of working
At its best, a workforce is collective and united in its culture, motivations, and goals. Yet this doesn’t mean sweeping away the traits and preferences of those individuals that make up that group.
As we have highlighted, workers are largely motivated by the same goals and values, but are placing increased pressure on employers to allow greater individuality in where, when, and how they engage with colleagues and the company at large.
Fuze research shows that if workers are given the opportunity to build their own way of working then a blend of remote working, compressed hours (full time, but in fewer days), and a presence in the company office feature highly.
It’s been widely talked about that workers are done with the standard “nine to five” and recent Fuze data supports this message. When asked about their preferred working hours, 39 per cent of current workers would actively choose earlier hours of 7:00am to get started, with less than a half (46%) wishing to work beyond 4:00pm.
Progressive companies are allowing workers to be connected where and when they are most effective, avoiding the hours when their productivity naturally dips and giving every opportunity to balance personal commitments.
Technology as a positive disruptor
Both inside and outside of the world of work, technology is a vital component of everyday life and it has the potential to transform ways of working to meet the demands of the workforce. But this potential isn’t being fully realised…yet.
Widespread high-speed broadband and Wi-Fi access are making it increasingly possible to connect with colleagues and company systems from outside the office, yet core tools and communications applications benefit workers based in central office locations.
Fuze research shows that 37 per cent of workers can’t access their desktop from outside of the company, 43 per cent don’t have access to the same messaging and conferencing tools and almost a third (30 per cent) can’t access files on the company system.
It’s a far cry from the ‘work from anywhere’ approach that employees are looking for.
However, there are business leaders that understand this disconnect and are rethinking their approach. They understand that technology has a fundamental role to play in truly embracing worker demands and driving future ways of working.
It’s about thinking beyond tactical fixes, like making it easy to access a file or document from home or being able to send a message to a colleague from a smartphone. Technology can be the enabler of a productive, creative, and inclusive work culture. It doesn’t mean sitting at the same desk, in the same office, with the same people, but rather providing the tools that unite the workforce with the same experiences and opportunities to share and collaborate.
Creating the workforce of the future
Work no longer needs to be defined by set hours or office walls and workers are looking for an employer that gives them the freedom to carry out their roles at a time and location of their choice. Meeting these demands is important for increasing workplace productivity.
Businesses that give their people the freedom to unleash their creativity and productivity, while prioritising everything from medical appointments to their family’s social calendars, will reap the rewards of a more motivated, engaged and, ultimately, productive workforce.