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The UK is leading the way on flexible working policies

The UK is head and shoulders above France and Germany when it comes to flexible working and workforce mobility, new research reveals.

According to Citrix Online, responding to growing regulatory, social and environmental pressures, almost half of UK businesses (47%) have seen an increase in workforce mobility over the past five years, compared to 31% in France and 27% in Germany.  

The survey of 3,000 public and private sector organisations exploring current attitudes to mobile working, found the increasing availability of devices and applications designed to enhance employee productivity on the go is also driving greater workforce flexibility.  

More than three-quarters (77%) of UK respondents said that their organisation provided the technology to enable effective mobile working, with mobile computing devices such as laptops or Notebooks the most popular (77%), followed by smartphones (44%).

The findings also revealed 68% of UK companies are actively encouraging their staff in adopting more mobile working across all parts of their organisation.  This is also way ahead of their German and French counterparts, where only 32% and 26% have provided similar proactive support."

Generally, UK organisations reflected the most positive attitude towards enabling a more effective workforce, as 30% actively encourage all staff to adopt mobile/remote working (compared to 18% overall), with a further 38% supporting mobile/remote working across departments where it is necessary for the job (compared to 24%). Companies everywhere clearly recognise the need for change, as only 6% of UK organisations now actively discourage mobile/remote working.

Technology enablers are seen as central to success here.  An overwhelming 80% see access to devices and applications enabling mobility as important to productivity, with a further 16% confirming that this is not important now but will become more important.

Only 18% of UK respondents (compared to 42% overall) believe they need to be in the office and interact with colleagues face-to-face all the time in order to get things done.  By contrast, 31% say they can be as productive when working remotely, and an additional 23% say this flexibility is now embedded in their working practices.

For one-third of UK respondents, more than 50% of face-to-face meetings could be held online and be just as effective, with only 42% still believing that physical co-location remains essential in every case. To support this, 17% already have put in place web conferencing solutions to improve productivity and cut travel costs. Here, UK companies appear slower to adopt tools to facilitate online meetings, as 30% of French firms, for example, are already using web conferencing software.

Bernardo de Albergaria, vice president and general manager global marketing and ecommerce at Citrix Online, told HR magazine: "Flexible working comes from an ability to trust staff. An inability to trust staff underlines a much bigger problem in business.

"Employers nowadays would struggle to recruit and find talent if it wasn’t for flexible working products."