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Flexible working: the demands of the changing workforce

With millennials and Generation Z – those born from the mid-90s to the early 2000s – soon set to dominate the workforce, organisations must react and adapt to the requirements and behaviours of these younger workers. According to Deloitte’s Millennial Survey 2017, flexible working is one such requirement – cited as crucial in improving productivity and staff engagement, as well as health and happiness. Similarly, Generation Z also expects flexible working options to be provided by their future employees, while also – and unsurprisingly, as digital natives – placing greater importance on there being a high standard of technology in the workplace.

Flexibility through technology
It’s important for companies to implement practices and solutions which meet these demands in order to attract and retain the best talent. Rather than relying on creating a fun or creative environment – which the Harvard Business Review actually found to be more important to baby boomers than millennials – younger employees are more likely to desire mobile, productive, and collaborative technology tools which allow them to work unhindered, regardless of location.

At the same time, security threats will continue to evolve with cyber-criminals seeing immense value in this increasingly mobile workforce, and so organisations must ensure the products they provide for flexible working are also resolutely secure – from their business-built devices and accompanying applications to cloud services for data storage and management.

Flexibility inside and outside the office
Of course, the two approaches can also co-exist. In healthcare organisations, for example, employee personal phones can be adopted under an MAM approach, whereas corporate devices used in clinical settings can be managed through an MDM policy. For businesses with specific needs, it may make more sense to employ one policy over another, but for most companies – and large enterprises in particular – a mixture of the two will provide a strong level of control, continuity and security.

The idea of flexible working is also beginning to involve the design of an office itself, catering for the changing expectations of on-premise workers. Hot-desking and shared spaces, for example, are increasingly popular ways of encouraging sociability as well as collaboration and cohesion in and amongst the workforce. Working hours are also under examination and often vary from the traditional 9-to-5 model, which is often considered stifling and unproductive.

The concept of flexible working continues to evolve, driven by changing employee demands and technological capabilities. As a result, any number of models are being trialled and permitted, with the growing realisation that treating employees as individuals with differing working needs is best. Indeed a recent Deloitte study found strong evidence that flexibility not only generates loyalty amongst millennials, but also helps to improve their performance.

For more information on how flexible working impacts organisations and employees today, read our eBook here: Working on the Edge: Understanding today's flexible workforce.

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