A recent article in Havard Business Review pointed out the trend towards WFA (Working From Anywhere). It pointed to a Gallup survey showing that 43% of employed Americans had spent at least some time working remotely, not always from home. In fact they give one example (the US Patent Office) where moving from Working From Home (WFH) to WFA produced a measurable increase in productivity.
We still manage organisations as if people have to be static to work. Yes, there are some tasks that clearly have to be done in a set location, but that doesn’t mean the whole job has to be stuck in one place or at a fixed time. A recent survey among more than 2,000 UK adults, all in full-time or part-time work, found that more than a third of full-time workers in the UK are currently looking for a new job because they would like a role with greater flexibility. It also claims that 71 percent of people consider flexible working – in terms of both the hours and location they work – as important to their job satisfaction. However, half (50 percent) cannot work remotely when they want or need to. Another recent survey found that two thirds (65 percent) of office workers that don’t currently have options for flexible working claim that they would be more motivated and productive in their jobs if given the option to choose their working hours.
For many managers it’s too much effort to stray from the traditional ‘9 to 5’ arrangement. They can manage to get people to do the work on that basis so why should they change? The fact that people may be happier, more engaged and more productive doesn’t really matter. But your people are voting with their feet. If they can’t get flexible working they will go elsewhere. At some point in the not-too-distant future managers will have to face the fact that fixed place working is a feature of the industrial age and we are well past that era.
We are now up to “M for Mobility”in the Wisework alphabet, so it’s good time to ask if your attitude to mobile working is keeping up with reality.