Businesses Need To Embrace Mobile Working Or Risk Losing Staff

According to research released today by Microsoft, mobile working is on the rise and businesses need to sit up and take notice or risk losing out to companies with attractive flexi-working policies.

The research, commissioned by Microsoft to support the People Moving Business Awards in partnership with the Chartered Management Institute, Business Link and Management Today, revealed that 73% of people consider the ability to work flexibly a deciding factor when choosing a new job; while 52% of workers believe they would enjoy a less stressful working life as a benefit of working remotely.

This demand from UK employees to reappraise their working habits, coupled with the needs of British business to remain productive and competitive in global markets, has led to a focus on the issue of mobile working and how companies and employees can find the right balance.

The research pinpoints three key areas that businesses need to focus on to promote mobile working within their organisations and achieve this balance. Firstly, only 16% of businesses have a formal flexible-working policy in place which suggests that companies are either not embracing change or need guidance on how to implement new working policies.

Secondly, the research revealed that while younger generation of workers (ages 16 - 24) would like to work remotely, one in four are concerned that this will be negatively perceived by employers. This highlights a perception issue, with staff feeling that they are not trusted to work productively away from the office. Finally, 36% of survey respondents cited lack of proper equipment as the primary barrier to working away from the office. Clearly providing employees with the technologies they need to work remotely is key to the implementation of flexible working.

The research also revealed some striking regional differences. While people in both the North and South of the UK consider mobile working to be a vital factor when choosing a job (69% in North East, 75% in North West and 73% in London), the number of mobile workers in London is nearly double those in the North; One in two (50%) Londoners work remotely compared to 32% of respondents in the North West and only 29% in the North East.

It appears that companies in the North are doing less to actively promote mobile working, for example only 10% in the North East have a formal mobile working policy in place compared to 20% in London. Not only is little being done to promote mobile working in the North, a high percentage of companies do not even allow it. Over a third of companies (37%) in the North do not permit mobile working compared to 16% in London.

To encourage companies to promote mobile working, Microsoft and its partners have launched the awards to recognise excellence in mobile working. We are also delighted to announce that Margaret Hodge MBE MP, Minister of State for Industry and the Regions has given her support for the People Moving Business Awards.

"While the UK as a whole must rise to the challenge of adopting new working practices that better suit 21st Century commerce, individual regions have their own micro issues which must be addressed," says Alex Reeve, UK Director, Microsoft Mobile Communications Business.

"You would expect Londoners to top the table when it comes to mobile working, but with virtually all areas of Britain now committed to a service driven economy, there appears to remain a north-south divide in terms of attitudes towards mobile working. If British businesses are to address the productivity gap between themselves and the leading Western economies, these challenges must be solved."