Research commissioned by Citrix Systems, the global leader in access infrastructure solutions, reveals that businesses across Europe have embraced the concept of flexible working and will continue to see its adoption grow in years to come. There is an almost universal belief among both C-level executives and employees below board level that the ability to access corporate information wherever the user might be contributes not only to increased user productivity and motivation, but also to increased revenue for the companies that adopt more flexible working practices.
However, most of those surveyed across Europe believed that they only required access to both email and digital calendars, whereas the need to see other corporate resources that could be made available such as company databases and research tools was minimal. Surprisingly, most respondents other than those in the Netherlands and the Nordic countries also did not see the need to access corporate shared systems while out of the office.
All countries surveyed believed that todays market environment would lead to increased flexible and mobile working, with most respondents claiming that there would be either a steady or slight growth in the adoption of mobile working practices in the coming years. Norwegian companies were most sure that they would be increasing the number of hours working outside the office, with French respondents showing the greatest level of cynicism.
Universally, the benefits of working flexibly were hailed throughout the continent, although some countries were more enthusiastic than others. Germany and France were more sceptical than most countries, while Ireland together with the Netherlands and the Nordic region typically saw the phenomenon in the most positive light. Key benefits uncovered by the survey included:
Increased sales revenues: At its highest in Ireland, the UK and France, although not seen as a key benefit in Germany
Means to reduce technology costs: This was recognised as a benefit across Europe and highest in Norway. Finland did not see mobile working as a means to reduce costs
Improved customer service: The Benelux and Nordic regions saw this as a principal benefit, whereas Germany and the UK were more sceptical
Improved external communications: Employees around Europe considered this a greater plus than their board room colleagues, but the Netherlands, Germany, Ireland and the Nordic countries were most in favour
There were some concerns about working flexibly, and understandably employees were more worried about the social fabric of the office environment and self-motivation, whereas their superiors were more concerned with cost and data security. Key findings were:
Technology costs were of greatest concern to German, Dutch, Danish and Swedish C-level executives
Data Security was a real concern in Germany, Belgium, Sweden and Denmark
C-level execs in Belgium, Ireland, Norway, Denmark and Finland were most concerned about teamwork and French and Belgian directors were worried about the effect that flexible working would have on staff management
French, Dutch and Finnish employees were concerned about self motivation when working outside of the normal office environment
The Coleman-Parkes study demonstrates that access is a key issue in business today, commented Stefan Sjstrm, vice-president of EMEA at Citrix Systems. As an increasing number of companies undertake business transactions outside the four walls of their own office, they need to be equipped with the most up-to-date information to make sound business decisions. Both employees and board level executives seem to be convinced of the benefits to their businesses, and so it should not be long before we see a more mainstream adoption of more flexible working practices.