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Putting faith in a flexible future

75 per cent of workers believe flexible work should be an essential part of how people work going forward.

Fuze, the leading cloud-based communications provider for the modern global enterprise, has published the results of a new global study of 8,800 workers, which reveals that as flexible work is increasingly viewed as an expectation for the working world, attitudes continue to vary widely across industries, roles and geographies. The Fuze report, “FLEX Study: Global Findings on the Future of Flexible Work”, reinforces that organisations and business leaders should not consider flexible work as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ benefit, but a personalised experience that should be tailored to an individual’s unique work preferences, role within their team, industry practices, aligned to goals and expected outcomes, and established through a foundation of trust.

The FLEX Study was unveiled today at the 2021 Flex Summit Week, a week-long virtual event that brings together industry experts and visionaries to discuss how enterprises are embracing flexible work. Results from the study were collected from more than 8,800 frontline and office workers in the United States, United Kingdom, France and Australia, and across a number of core industries, including manufacturing, retail, professional services, financial services, and software and technology.

Among the key findings from the study, 75 per cent reported that flexible work should be an essential part of how people work. In most regions, a full-time return to the office or worksite mandate could result in destabilising job churn. In the UK, US, and Australia, approximately two-thirds of employees (67 per cent) would consider finding a new job for greater flexibility in when and how they work. In France, more than half of employees (57 per cent) would consider finding a new job for greater flexibility. However, trust in flexible work varies widely across roles. Across all regions, about half (54 per cent) of workers think management is more trusting of remote work, while 70 per cent of senior leaders believe management is more trusting, highlighting a gap between management's new-found trust in remote work and employee perception of that trust. The gap in trust toward remote work is also reflected by role, with office workers (73 per cent) more likely to say they are more trusting of remote work compared to frontline workers (50 per cent). This may be credited to the lack of flexible work options traditionally offered to frontline workers versus office workers.

Other key insights from the report include:

•Frontline workers perceive flexible work differently than office workers. 42 per cent of frontline workers believe management is trustworthy of remote work, compared to 62 per cent of office workers. 78 per cent of frontline workers also report that their organisation requires them to be in their current working location versus only 60 per cent of office workers. However, six in 10 (63 per cent) frontline workers say they would be willing to change jobs for more flexibility.

•Remote workers feel more productive. For those working remotely full-time, 60 per cent say they are more productive at home than they were in the office. However, this feeling of productivity varies across regions with 70 per cent of Australian respondents saying that they felt more productive versus only 52 per cent of UK respondents.

•Companies must reshape their culture of video meetings to drive engagement. In every industry, every job category, and every region, fewer than 10 per cent of workers consider seeing someone’s face the most critical part of an effective meeting. For workers who report being happier at home, if their day is packed with meetings, they become less engaged and productive. In fact, 59 per cent of respondents say they would like to spend less than two hours a day in video meetings.

•Companies must establish a structure for the work day to prevent burnout. Only 66 per cent of respondents say they are ensuring they take a break every day. In addition, a quarter of respondents report that they find themselves working longer hours since they started working remotely.

“Over the last year, the pandemic forced many organizations to digitally transform and embrace flexible work,” said Brian Day, CEO, Fuze. “While office workers have been at the forefront of the flexible work conversation for years, other segments of the workforce are playing a critical role in the movement’s evolution. This study provides organizations with the foundational data required to inform their approach to flexible work and empower employees to be more engaged and productive.”


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