Home workers are now seen as being as productive, if not more productive, than their office-bound colleagues, with those eschewing a daily commute to work also enjoying improvements in their work-life balance such as more sleep and less stress.
These are among the key findings of a major study by Intel and Dell, entitled The Global Evolving Workforce (PDF), that surveyed almost 5,000 employees from organisations in 12 countries, including the US, UK, France, Germany, Japan, Brazil, China, India, Russia and Turkey.
The survey found that 52 percent of respondents believe working from home makes people as productive, or even more productive, than those based in the office.
Those who work from home also see themselves as highly efficient. Fifty percent believe they are more efficient than office workers, and 36 percent believe they are as efficient. Only 14 percent believe they are not as efficient.
The benefits of home working are many and varied, apparently, with 30 percent saying it helps them to get more sleep while 40 percent like the fact that it cuts the time they have to spend behind the wheel of a car. Some 46 percent said home working made them less stressed
On the downside, home working isn’t so good for your waist, with 20 percent of respondents saying it meant they exercised less while 38 percent snack more.
Margaret Franco, executive director for Digital and Client Solutions Marketing, Dell EMEA, told V3 she sees the “accessibility of connectivity” as key to the growing popularity of home working.
“The rise in home PCs and smartphones and so forth means it’s very easy for people to work from home, regardless of whether their company has provided a computing device,” she said.
However, while home working is becoming increasingly accepted, 97 percent of respondents said they still go to the office every week.
This is despite the many workplace distraction highlighted in the survey. Forty-eight percent of respondents said they are “frequently interrupted” in the office, with one in five workers resorting to using headphones to help them focus on their work.
Stuart Dommett, head of business marketing for Northern Europe at Intel, said the fact so many people still commute to work shows that the office isn’t going to go away, although it will need to evolve to fit new working patterns.
“Flexible working is becoming more accepted but people still need that presence in the office to have face-to-face meeting and spark ideas and innovation,” he said.
“This means the office has to adapt to this, so people have the right technologies that integrate with their working lives in a collaborative manner.”
Earlier this year the government introduced guidelines that give employees the right to request flexible working patterns and locations, in an effort to help more people find a harmonious work-life balance.
Mixed up devices
The report also found that most workers need more than one type of device to do their job. Some 62 percent consider a desktop PC their main device when at the office, with financial services, public healthcare and government workers particularly attached to their desktop devices. However, at home, laptops are more commonly used.
The key thing when it comes to choice of device is performance, the report found, with 81 percent of respondents citing it as the first or second most important characteristic of a device. Franco said this made sense given the types of work now being done.
“The uses and workloads that people are doing now – such as video consumption, high resolution images and creative presentations – mean there is a need for higher performance machines,” she said.
The need for good devices is particularly important given that one in four of those surveyed said they would consider moving job if it meant they would have access to better technology.
Employees in the media and entertainment sectors are the most likely to leave their jobs due to poor technology. Over half of respondents also said they feel IT does not consider their needs when selecting technology.
Dell’s Franco argued that firms face a tough battle for talent in the future, so anything they can do to attract and retain good workers – such as provide them with the most suitable technology – will be increasingly important.
Dommett agreed: “The lesson from the past five years is it’s not just workers that need to think about how to utilise this technology but for departments, from legal, HR and IT, to understand it from the employee’s perspective.
“The rate of change is going to continue and opportunities will increase so it’s about enabling them to use these tools effectively.”
The report found that workers are generally optimistic about how future technologies will change the way they work.
Ninety-two percent believe voice recognition will be used instead of the keyboard in future, while 87 percent think tablets will completely replace laptops. Eighty-seven also think all computers will use hand-gestures, while keyboards and mice will one day be obsolete according to 88 percent.
Both Franco and Dommett said these numbers are evidence of widespread enthusiasm for new forms of technology among the modern workforce, which both Dell and Intel are working to provide.