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December 1, 2011

Technology driving new flexible workplace culture

A new survey of modern workplaces points to a change in management techniques being boosted by mobile technology.

By Allan Swann

A recent survey conducted by Vodafone found that there is a cultural shift away from a deskbound 9-5 regime, due to the integration of millennials and greater use of mobile technology in workplaces.

The survey considered the opinions of 1000 managers across small medium and large businesses across the public and private sector.

The millennial generation’s consumerisation of the workplace is flowing on to their bosses. Seven out of ten managers are now saying that the old idea of nine-to-five working is disappearing in favour of more flexible working arrangements. Six out of ten managers (59%) now allow their employees to work from home, but only 15% will provide the technology for doing so (such as laptops, broadband connectivity and remote access).

Unsurprisingly, 62% think the line between work and personal life has become blurred since people started using smartphones and working from home.

About two-thirds of managers ask their employees to work outside of traditional office hours, and a similar number don’t mind staff do personal tasks during work hours as a trade-off. Those surveyed said they were more tolerant of employee’s personal calls, emails, Facebook, Twitter and booking appointments, but tend to draw the line at online shopping during work hours.

"A new generation of workers is coming through the ranks. They prefer fitting work around their lives rather than the other way around. People don’t mind doing some work in the evening or at the weekend, but in return, they expect bosses to cut them some slack so they can see to personal chores," said Peter Kelly, enterprise director at Vodafone UK.

Interestingly, 43% of these managers rely on employees using their own technology to get the job done – which has become the issue of the moment as IT departments come to grips with consumerisation and the security issues that go with it.

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Consumerisation, including the ‘Bring Your Own Device’ trend is viewed positively by 21% of managers and a similar number (22%) say it is definitely worth considering, as long as the right security measures and processes are in place.

Only 12% equip their employees with smartphones as standard, though around one-third (34%) say they give them to some of their staff, and 15% reimburse employees for using their own smartphones for work.

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