Major trends like globalization, as well as environmental and technological factors, increasingly affect the way businesses operate, and how people work.
Since 2002, the annual flexible working survey - designed and managed by Global WorkPlace Innovation - examines the way people work across Europe. The findings provide businesses with fresh insights of how to align HR, IT and workplace strategies to changing working practices.
Back to the office
Our 2010 flexible working survey reveals that being in the office has become more of a priority for white-collar workers.
The 2010 Global WorkPlace Solutions flexible working survey, developed in partnership with the London-based Office Productivity Network, shows that flexible working has declined to 2003 levels, reversing years of growth.
“In each of the six flexible working surveys that we have conducted since 2002, we have seen an increase in flexible and mobile working, coupled with a decline in people choosing to work from the office. This latest study is significant because it shows that between 2007 and 2010, this trend reversed.” Dr. Marie Puybaraud, Study author and director of Global WorkPlace Innovation
Key findings from the flexible working 2010 survey
- 150% increase in those working from the office (18% in 2007 to 45% in 2010).
- 23% decrease in mobile working (46% in 2007 to 35% in 2010).
- Almost 50% fewer workers using hot-desks in (39% in 2007 to 20% in 2010).
- Significantly more workers using shared desks (15% in 2007 to 26% in 2010).
- Meeting people and interaction are regarded as the most important reasons why people go to the office.
- The majority of our respondents (64%) believe that going to office is important to extremely important.
Flexible Workers go to the office to:
- meet people (75%)
- collaborate (11%)
The survey provides indirect evidence of the impact that the global recession had on employee working patterns. There has been a very clear return to the office by workers following the global recession.
The downturn and threat of job loss led to a lot of insecurity in the workplace, so another reason behind this trend could be that employees want to be seen at work as a way of demonstrating their worth to their managers. Collaborative technologies are readily available and there is no evidence that companies have driven this trend to work in the office, so this appears to be an employee behavioral response to tough times and uncertainty. As the global recovery continues we should see that more people work flexibly. Organizations should continue to adopt emerging technologies and policies that will support a tech-savvy workforce and globalized teams.
According to Paul Bartlett, Chairman of Office Productivity Network “there is a fascinating paradox in that there has been a return to the office by once-mobile workers, but there is still the recognition that business agility, such as that provided by flexible working, is vital for the success of many organizations. Although it has reduced, the culture of flexibility is well established and has provided many companies with the ability to respond to adversity. It could also be behind the much lower levels of job losses than many forecasters were expecting.”