UK lags behind global flexible working drive

Three years after the UK government offered flexible working, nearly two-thirds of UK business people work remotely. Yet many do not use collaborative tools as widely as other countries, despite clear benefits. Collaborative technologies include video and teleconferencing, instant messaging and file sharing tools.

In fact, the UK falls behind many other major economies in the adoption of collaborative working technology, which could impact business productivity, according to a major global study.

>See also: Flexible working is the path forward

The study of 24,000 business people worldwide was carried out by Polycom, Inc., an enterprise grade business communication company, found that 46% of UK workers use collaborative tools daily. This is far lower than many leading economies, including Russia (61%), Australia (55%), Singapore (54%), United States (53%), Canada (51%) and France (49%).

Emerging economies Brazil (82%) and India (72%) lead collaborative technology adoption, while a culture of presenteeism in Japan limits the ability to work remotely there.

The UK government enabled flexible working for all in June 2014. Despite the UK trailing in adoption of collaborative technology, there is clearly a demand for the ability to work remotely and businesspeople well understand the benefits of such a culture.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of the UK now works remotely at some point, Polycom finds, with 38% of people using email “considerably less” in favour of the phone or instant messaging.

>See also: Rise in flexible working coincides with the rise of robots

Those aged 30-44 are most likely to ditch email, possibly because it is the format they have used most during their career and know how much time email can take to manage effectively.

“In the UK, many organisations maintain a legacy ‘nine-to-five’ culture while others are going through a process of digital transformation, so may be exploring the viability of remote working for their workforce,” said Jeremy Keefe, UK&I and Benelux Area Sales Vice President, at Polycom. “To enable staff to work effectively from home, organisations need to equip staff with the technology that connects them with colleagues, generate working from home policies and update them as culture and technology evolves, and provide guidelines to staff.”


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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...