For many years, businesses have desired to garner the benefits of a flexible working environment. There are many drivers behind this desire. One of the most compelling is that modern businesses must empower new types of workers: temp workers, contractors, part-time employees, in addition to traditional employees—and any of those types might work remotely. Companies that once would have paid the moving costs of a new recruit now see remote work as a much more attractive alternative. And with commute times in nearly every major city expanding every year, existing employees are much more likely to be given the approval to work at home at least some of the time. Meanwhile, the improved functionality for flexible work that has been designed into digital workspace solutions, such as Citrix Workspace, is making a focus on physical workspaces an old-school approach.
Employees and the HR team have made a strong case for the soft, human-centric benefits of providing a flexible working environment. However, there are also quantifiable economic and employee experience benefits. For this article, the focus is on improving the ability to work from anywhere, which is central to flexible working.
Working from anywhere is a key capability of modern digital workspaces, and it’s clear that working from anywhere is very attractive to all types of employees. Recently, the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) completed a study examining the issues that surround work from anywhere. To start, more than 90% of employees aged 16-55 would like to work from anywhere. More surprisingly, 69% of those that are unemployed or economically inactive would work from anywhere if they could.
The focus on the employee experience is also driving the trend. Working from anywhere is seen as critical to enhancing the employee experience. The CEBR study found many ways the employee experience is enhanced:
- 72% of employees would save money if working from anywhere were supported.
- 70% would have reduced stress or anxiety about taking time off.
- 74% believe remote work would improve their work/life balance.
- 68% would get more done in less time by eliminating time wasted commuting.
- 66% would be able to better concentrate on their work.
In addition to the improvements to the employee experience, working from anywhere also eliminates some important negatives resulting from traditional physically based offices. Fully 20% of the respondents to the CEBR study had quit a job because they couldn’t work from anywhere. And another 18% had reduced the number of hours they worked, while 15% had moved from full-time to part-time status. These are perhaps the most sobering statistics because they represent trends that continue to impact every organization that doesn’t support working from anywhere.
Contrasting the positives of work from anywhere and the negatives of a traditional workplace makes the argument in favor that much more compelling. Standing still doesn’t merely reduce the gains; rather, it continues a very troubling set of negative trends and outcomes that will put the business at a competitive disadvantage.
At a macro level, potential U.S. economic gains from a flexible working culture could amount to approximately $2.36 trillion, and the expected GDP boost would be more than 10%. A large part of this gain comes from reintroducing the part-time worker or the economically inactive back into the workforce. Given the scarcity of job seekers and the lack of potential employees that many organizations are facing, it is clear that working from anywhere could solve many stubborn staffing/hiring problems.
Many of the data points presented in this article provide the hard proof that supports gut-feel assumptions already made. Yet, the scale of the benefits (or conversely, the negative impact of the status quo) is much higher than might have been simply guessed at. The study is compelling reading. For organizations that need to move forward, or to optimize the technology they use to support employees, deploying a modern digital workspace is the foundation. There are many new capabilities that not only optimize the ability to work from anywhere, but also enhance security, make it easy to find data, and simplify collaboration.