This is a guest blog post by Jacqueline de Rojas, VP at Citrix running the UK, Ireland and Nordic businesses and president at techUK. She was also voted Computer Weekly’s Most Influential Woman in IT 2015.
We are on the cusp of a shift that’ll see working flexibly become more common than traditional workplace approaches.
For the first time, the UK is swiftly approaching a genuine ‘tipping point’ of flexible working. A new report from Lancaster University’s Work Foundation (commissioned by Citrix), predicts 2017 as the point when over half of UK’s organisations will have adopted flexible working practices.
It also predicts that, once the tip has begun, over 70% of organisations will have followed suit by 2020; ushering in an era where working away from the office will actually become more common than working exclusively from a fixed desk and location.
The report highlights reasons why organisations should develop and implement flexible working policies with their employees, including: improved employee wellbeing, increased productivity and the attraction and retention of talent.
It is no secret that I’m passionate about addressing the skills shortage in the UK. A shortage that is no more evident than in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) workforce. Let’s look at the numbers – despite making up to 46% of the labour market, women still only represent just 12.8% of STEM. If we cannot overthrow the culture that reinforces a skills gap of this magnitude, the UK simply will not be a leading source of technology innovation.
This doesn’t just apply to new generations entering the workplace, instead it serves to illuminate the frequently untapped talent pool of those on maternity leave, those that have chosen to move to rural areas, parents and, of course, single parents. Individuals with years of experience and training, primed for a new career challenge yet often left without the framework to take on a new role alongside other commitments. This is a tragedy and organisations are truly missing out.
Encouragingly, with the right technology, policies and cultural change – there’s an exciting opportunity here for organisations looking to attract and retain the talent and experience necessary to stay ahead of competitors.
Understandably, this comes packaged with a need for a change in expectations from employers themselves – shifting away from the antiquated ‘time-at-desk’ as a measure of productivity, rather than output. For example, 37% of managers believe rolling out mobile working in their organisation will result in longer working hours for them, whilst a quarter (24%) claimed all work in their business is still carried out within the physical workplace.
Yet, flexible working options are not only a primary motivator but a necessity for many wishing to succeed in the workplace without the constraints of legacy working practices. Technology is already playing a key role in enabling the future workplace; helping to attract diverse groups of professionals into the workforce by breaking down the factors that make full and part time knowledge worker roles off-putting or inaccessible. Encouraging the cultural shift to support this is hugely important.
The pace of change is increasing and the tipping point will help to unlock the potential of this untapped resource of talent. The organisations that win will be those at the head of the line when the floodgates open whilst playing an active role in maintaining momentum; focussing on creating business environments that allow everyone involved to achieve their potential.
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