TeamViewer, a global provider of online meeting and remote support software, recently released ‘The End of Nine-to-Five’ report, which reveals that millions of workers would welcome a six hour working day as part of a rejection of the traditional 9-5 working week and towards a more flexible approach. TeamViewer’s CEO, Andreas König, provides some expert insight into the finding of this report, exploring issues around work-life balance, the role of management and the recent studies on working hours conducted in Sweden.
‘The End of Nine-to-Five’ report found that 11 million UK workers would wish to introduce a six hour working day. Were you surprised that this figure was so high?
Technology, societal change and the rise of flexible, remote working and hot-desking are just some of the things challenging traditional office culture. This is resulting in a fundamental shift in many of the ways of working that society has taken for granted, such as taking weekends off, working nine-to-five and commuting to an office.
At TeamViewer, we wanted to understand the true extent of this cultural shift, which is why we commissioned an independent survey of UK office workers. The research findings are summarised in ‘the End of Nine-to-Five’ report and reveal that, 72% of workers are turning their back on the standard 9-5 office life, agreeing that it’s not relevant for the 21st century. We were not at all surprised by these findings, for the first time workers are demanding how, where and when they want to work and interest in a six-hour working day is just another example of this.
The report also found that 79% of people believe their work-life balance to be more important than salary. Do you think this perspective belongs largely to certain demographics or age groups, or is this opinion felt across the workforce as a whole?
Our research revealed that 79% of people across all demographics considered work-life balance more important than salary, however this figure rose to 80% for 16 to 24 year olds, 81% for women and 82% in the 35 to 44 age bracket.
The findings also showed a strong desire to introduce more flexible working. Do you think employers are yet to fully realise how sought after flexible working is across the workforce?
TeamViewer’s recent survey revealed that 72% of UK office workers agree that being able to work remotely or flexibly makes them more effective in their jobs and 73% also agree that having the ability to work flexibly or remotely makes them feel more valued as an employee, making them more likely to remain loyal to the organisation.
Companies need to respond if they want to continue to motivate their teams and attract the top talent. To fully support today’s workforce, organizations need to realise that they can no longer enforce policies that restrict remote and flexible working. Instead they need to provide technologies that make it beneficial for the employees and the company.
Why do you think there is such a discrepancy between the number of employees seeking a more flexible approach to their working hours and the 9-5 working timeframe offered by so many employers?
The main issue holding businesses back from imposing flexible working is the idea that not only will it be difficult to implement, it will also be costly, time consuming and difficult to manage. None of this has to be the case.
A point to bear in mind is that online applications can give staff access to documents and let them collaborate easily and cost effectively. However, the most important point to consider is that by not implementing flexible working they are at serious risk of not being able to attract the top talent who will chose to go somewhere that meets their needs better.
TeamViewer’s recent survey revealed that 42% of office workers don’t have the ability to work flexibly but would like to have this option. It’s clear that the UK workforce is keen for flexible working to become the norm. The culture shift now needs to come from the management levels within these organisations to allow them this freedom. As long as any concerns from the business are addressed up front and clear guidelines are in place on what is expected from employees who are working remotely or flexibility the culture change should be relatively straightforward.
The study found that not only would a six-hour day improve employees’ work-life balance, but that it could also be beneficial for employers in boosting overall productivity. Do you think employers may be cynical of this, and if so, what do you think could change this perception?
The business value of flexible working is two fold. Firstly, allowing your employees to work remotely increases their productivity – if they’re on their way to a meeting and arrive early they can put this time to good use by accessing important documents on the go. Secondly, recent research has shown that employees who are allowed to work remotely are happier and with higher levels of job satisfaction. As such, companies are far more likely to attract the top talent by giving them the option of flexible working. Our survey revealed that, 83.5% said that they don’t need to go into the office every day to be productive. What’s more, 82% agreed that all employees should be offered flexible working hours without it affecting their careers. A happy work force can only mean better results!
It was highlighted that Sweden revealed in 2015 that the country was moving to a six-hour day after successful trials. Do you predict this will be successful move for this country?
For the past year the Swedish government has been conducting studies to try to determine whether a shorter workday increases productivity. The results so far show that it does. The project compared nurses working at a retirement home, with a control group at a similar facility. The data showed that 68 nurses who worked six hour days took half as much sick time as those in the control group. And they were 2.8 times less likely to take any time off in a two-week period. The results also showed that the nurses were 20% happier and had more energy at work and in their spare time. This allowed them to do 64% more activities with elderly residents, one of the metrics researchers used to measure productivity.
What would you recommend as additional tips for improving overall work-life balance for today’s employees and employers?
Our experience with flexible working models is overwhelmingly positive – and we can certainly say that it brings about a variety of benefits for both employee and employer. That is why we are preparing comprehensive teleworking concepts for our own staff.
A common concern for businesses is that remote working is expensive and/or difficult to implement. However, with the advent of online applications businesses can give staff access to documents and let them collaborate easily and cost effectively.
The technologies required to enable flexible working are straightforward. Whether it’s a tablet, phone or laptop the employee is using they need to be allowed to access the company information and documents from home. Access regulations can help organizations control who accesses what part of their infrastructure. It’s also important to give the employee access to creative tools such as good quality video and online conferencing software as well as the ability to easily share documents.
For more information on TeamViewer visit www.teamviewer.com