Three-quarters (75%) of organizations globally have now introduced flexible working policies to enable staff to vary their hours and use technology to work from home, according to new research by Vodafone.

Its survey, Flexible: friend or foe?, which polled 8,000 employers and employees in 10 countries, found that respondents believed performance had been enhanced as a result of flexible working.

Some 61% said their company’s profits increased, 83% reported an improvement in productivity, and 58% believe flexible working policies have had a positive impact on their organization’s reputation.

Read: Shorter, flexible workweeks can save the planet

The adoption of technology is planning an integral role in the workplace revolution, according to the survey. Nearly two-thirds (61%) of respondents now use their home broadband service to access work applications and 24% use a mobile data connection via their smartphone, tablet or laptop.

Vodafone’s survey also explored the reasons why 20% of respondents said their organization had not yet implemented a flexible working policy. Of those 20% reporting there was no such policy in place:

  • 33% said they believed it would not suit the culture of their organisation;
  • 30% were concerned about friction between employees working flexibly and those who did not do so;
  • 25% believed that work would be unfairly distributed between flexible and non-flexible groups of employees; and
  • 22% believed employees would not work as hard if allowed to adopt flexible working patterns and technologies.

Read: How Cisco makes flex schedules work

The survey also found 55% of respondents without flexible working policies in place agreed that employee morale would improve if these were to be introduced, while 44% said they believed productivity would improve as a result, and 30% believed profits would increase.

It also identified a number of striking variations between national attitudes towards flexible working:

  • 71% of Spanish employees surveyed use their own smartphone to work flexibly outside the workplace compared with 38% in the UK and 27% in Germany;
  • Only 8% of UK employers surveyed would be concerned about employees not working as hard as a consequence of flexible working policies compared with 33% in Hong Kong; and
  • 52% of German employees surveyed said they were not aware of their company’s security policy regarding flexible working compared with 23% of those in India.

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“Vodafone’s research reveals a profound and rapid shift in the modern workplace,” said Vodafone Group enterprise chief executive Nick Jeffery. “Employers are telling us that flexible working boosts profits while their employees tell us they’re more productive.”

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