Flexible Working in Australia: “yes, we (almost) can”

A new survey shows some Australians work from home some of the time –  but many still dream of the freedom of flexible working

Sydney, November 12, 2012 - A survey by IT services company Logicalis has shown that most people would like the chance to work wherever they chose, less than half are doing it today.

A third of the 70 IT decision makes surveyed categorised themselves as “Cube Man” (or Woman), meaning they are office bound. Only a third described themselves as “Zen Masters”; workers for whom location is immaterial. However, over half the respondents said they would prefer to work from anywhere, and another 40% would prefer to work at least one day a week from home.

Whilst technology used to be the constraining factor when it came to flexible working, today culture is the major roadblock. A quarter of respondents stated that corporate culture was a barrier, twice the amount that cited technology as the issue.

Yet, even where the culture was the impediment, most respondents still felt flexible working would be an important step to improving productivity. “Our staff work long hours and are exhausted when they clock off,” said one respondent. “Even when they take breaks, they are ‘office breaks’. Flexible working could increase the number of hours they get in the home environment, whilst still getting their job done.”

Cost savings

The Logicalis survey shows how productivity gains don’t just come from time savings, such as getting rid of the daily commute. Many respondents pointed to the implied trust that came with the introduction of flexible working arrangements. “In today's world I need to trust my employees and if I need them to be chained to a desk then the trust isn't there,” said one respondent.

Logicalis Marketing Director, Oliver Descoeudres says trust is a key factor in helping to reduce staff turnover, a quantifiable benefit for any organisation.

He says there are flow-on benefits too. “Cooper Grace Ward Lawyers is a large legal practice in Brisbane. When they introduced virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), not only were staff pleased to be offered a more flexible way of working, the IT team saw reduced power consumption and less time spent putting our fires. It took less than two years for the deployment to pay for itself.”

VDI was used by half of the respondents to the Logicalis survey and most companies offered VPN access to corporate resources. There was some room for improvement, though. Half the respondents saw a need for personal devices to be available as a corporate tool – many companies now embrace Bring Your Own (BYO) devices in their IT strategy – and a similar number would like to see a home phone handset linked to the corporate dial plan.

Descoeudres said technology to meet these demands was commonplace, but culture is the stumbling block. “Solutions exist to allow someone to work and collaborate as effectively at the airport or home as they do in the office. Instead, the issue is about policies, processes and culture. Helping clients navigate these issues is as central to our work as implementing any enabling technology. Thankfully, most concerns can be offset with an IT solution – it’s simply a case of demonstrating what can be done.”

The Results

The Logicalis survey of IT decision-makers also showed

  • Nine in ten people companies surveyed do some form of flexi-working, but few say it applies to all staff
  • Three quarters said they would be more productive if they could work more flexibly
  • Improved staff retention and business continuity were also seen important: most respondents listed it in the top three benefits of flexible working.
  • Half said current technology was not an impediment to more flexible working
  • Half said corporate culture and politics were a barrier to adoption  
  • Half said staff needed to be in the office
  • Almost three quarters of those allowed to work from home had VPN access to corporate resources
  • Desktop virtualisation was used by less than half, but another quarter planned to implement it    
  • Video conferencing was used by less than half of home workers, with almost as many saying it wasn’t appropriate to them    
  • Three quarters saw lack of quality broadband connections as a barrier to more flexible working    
  • OH&S risks emanating from staff working at home was an equally as significant barrier    
  • A third of respondents categorised themselves as Cube Man (or Lady) – an office based worker.    
  • A similar number described themselves as Zen Masters, who can work from anywhere.    
  • More than half said they would like to be Zen Masters. A few less said they’d like to work from home at least one day a week.

About Logicalis

Logicalis is an international provider of integrated information and communications technology (ICT) solutions and services founded on a superior breadth of knowledge and expertise in communications & collaboration; data centre; and professional and managed services.

Logicalis Group employs over 1,900 people worldwide, including highly trained service specialists who design, specify, deploy and manage complex ICT infrastructures to meet the needs of over 5,000 corporate and public sector customers. To achieve this, Logicalis maintains strong partnerships with technology leaders such as Cisco, HP, IBM and Microsoft.

The Logicalis Group has annualised revenues in excess of $1 billion, from operations in the UK, US, Germany, South America and Asia Pacific, and is fast establishing itself as one of the leading IT and Communications service providers, specialising in the areas of advanced technologies and services.

The Logicalis Group is a division of Datatec Limited, a $3.7 billion revenue business listed on the Johannesburg and London AIM Stock Exchanges. For more information, visit www.logicalis.com

For further information, please contact: Dana Dobbie Progressiva Tel: 0416 072 625 Email: dana@progressiva.com.au