A global survey finds a considerable proportion of workers are taking up “anywhere working” – and no more so than in Brazil where 4 out 5 of workers surveyed said they worked in this way.
The global survey of 24,000 workers in 12 countries, was commissioned by Polycom, Inc – a company that provides collaboration solutions to empower workers and improve productivity.
Nearly two-thirds of 24,000 workers surveyed around the world are taking up anywhere working.
The results suggest that all over the world, in some places more than others, the idea of flexible working – where typically workers can do some work from home and do the rest back at the workplace – is transforming into anywhere working, which means, literally, the ability to work from anywhere.
Compared to the last survey in 2012, when only 14 percent of workers surveyed across the globe were working remotely from traditional workplaces, the new survey finds nearly two-thirds are taking up anywhere working.
The survey highlights differences from country to country about the new form of flexible working. At one end of the spectrum lies Brazil, where 80 percent of those surveyed said they had adopted anywhere working, while at the other end lies Japan, with only 35 percent saying they worked in this way.
Different priorities in different age groups
The data also shows differences according to age group. Just over half (51 percent) of workers in the 45-60 age group said they had adopted anywhere working, in contrast to over two-thirds (70 percent) of workers aged 30 and under.
However, the report suggests these differences in age groups could be a reflection of their employer and industry rather than the preferences of the individuals.
For example, 36 percent of respondents in the 45-60 age group said their employer did not offer anywhere working, compared with only 15 percent of those aged 30 and under.
Also, older workers surveyed tended to be employed in manufacturing – where jobs lend themselves less easily to anywhere working – while the younger end of the respondent spectrum were more likely to be employed in high-tech industries.
When asked about advantages of taking up anywhere working, both older and younger groups agreed that the main benefit was it helped achieve the right work-life balance. However, this meant different things for different age groups.
Older workers seem more concerned about reducing travel time, while younger workers emphasize having more time to exercise and enjoy hobbies.
Trust is important
The survey also examined apprehensions about anywhere working. Most respondents (62 percent) said their main worry was that their colleagues might think they were not working as hard away from the office.
Also, the data shows that older workers are particularly concerned that anywhere working might mean working longer hours and the report notes that fear of being in an “always-on” culture can be a big deterrent for this group.
The report concludes that anywhere working can work and increase productivity, but employers need to learn to trust their workers and workers need to learn to trust themselves.
A key step in this process is to shift from a culture that measures and values performance by hours of work to one that values output and results.
Technology is the key
When asked how their employers could improve trust among workers and secure better attitudes to anywhere working, the respondents suggested that companies equip their employees with communications technology that allows colleagues to connect easily with each other and work as teams. 91 percent of respondents said technology is a key factor in this.
They also said companies should issue clear guidelines about anywhere working and apply policies equally to all workers at all levels, regardless of seniority.
The survey – conducted by Morar Consulting – collected data from workers in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States. 55 percent of respondents were at management level or above, 58 percent had care responsibilities, and 68 percent were parents.