Flexible working is gaining senior level support worldwide, according to the latest research by global workplace provider Regus, which surveyed over 44,000 senior business people across more than 100 countries, including 365 respondents from Hong Kong. In fact, John C Tsang, Financial Secretary of the Hong Kong SAR Government, encouraged employers in Hong Kong to introduce more flexible working arrangements in his Budget Speech in February this year.
The Regus survey found that the vast majority of respondents globally (72%) now believe their senior management support the idea of flexible working, however, only 70% of Hong Kong respondents agreed. The city did score the highest in Greater China, although that was lower than its counterparts in Singapore (71%), the US (77%) and the UK (80%), where all employees have enjoyed the right to request flexible working since the end of June last year.
Key to talent acquisition
In addition, 68% of respondents globally found that their industry sector is increasingly moving towards flexible working to retain and develop talent. The respondents from Greater China share similar thoughts, in that 66% in Hong Kong, 65% in Taiwan and 70% in Mainland China agree that flexible working can help talent acquisition.
On the other hand, 75% of respondents globally agree that mangers require specific training to successfully manage remote teams. Close contact is still key, with 82% of respondents feeling that managers should speak to staff who work remotely several times a week and 85% believing that remote workers should attend monthly face-to-face meetings with their line managers.
Driving adoption of cloud applications
The study also found that 85% globally, 78% in Hong Kong, 92% in Taiwan and 91% in Mainland China agree that the move to remote working is strongly driving the take-up of “cloud” applications which can be accessed anywhere.
Seventy-two percent globally, 73% in Hong Kong, 91% in Taiwan and 86% in Mainland China believe remote workers must be prepared to accept the use of IT systems that track and measure levels of work activity.
A majority (73% ) globally, 70% in Hong Kong, 93% in Taiwan and 87% in Mainland China believe IT systems should also be used to track and measure worker productivity.
While there still seems to be a need for management to take specific training to successfully manage remote workers, the advantages for businesses of enabling remote working cannot be ignored. One solution is to provide staff with access to professional locations closer to home that help them focus on work in a distraction-free environment, but still crucially allow them to be closer to home or wherever they need to be.
“With its benefits for both staff and employers, there is no question that businesses globally are increasingly moving towards remote working. However, the research findings show that it is not considered to be enough to simply let workers go their own way, with the majority of those questioned worldwide supporting the tracking and measuring of both work activity and productivity,” said Michael Ormiston, Country Manager, Regus Hong Kong.
“Management is clearly still concerned about maintaining and tracking levels of productivity. Offering staff the opportunity to work from a fully professional environment that is closer to home and devoid of distractions can help satisfy worker needs and ensure productivity doesn’t suffer.”