New research has found that Brits are becoming increasingly connected to their work as a result of technology, with the average person working an extra 3.35 hours a week for free and 22 per cent of those surveyed never straying more than 10 feet away from an internet-enabled device.
Yet this flexible working is jeopardising data security as employees scatter valuable corporate data across unprotected personal and remote devices, with just 32 per cent saving data to their corporate networks when working remotely.
The changing face of the workplace has also resulted in more flexible working practices, with just under a quarter (23 per cent) of people working from home at least once a week. More than 90 per cent of employees think that this flexible working is of great benefit to their employers – however this is compounding the risk to company data.
The results of the survey show the lines between work and personal lives increasingly blurring as more and more of us work in our personal time and space as well as carrying out personal tasks in work time and locations. Both employers and workers appear to benefit but, if workers are only saving data to their laptops, tablets or smartphones, this leaves businesses at significant risk should they be lost, stolen or broken.
In most cases, the consumerisation of IT and workplace flexibility leads to a more ‘switched on’ and connected workforce but UK businesses need to ensure they are able to properly back up data when employees are working outside of the office to protect important information from loss.
However, the research highlighted further benefits for those who don’t need to come to the office and their employers – when their data is properly secured. 70 per cent of Brits stated they are more productive when given the flexibility of remote working and three quarters stated they enjoy working at home more than being in the office.
Reasons cited included the ability to get more done in a shorter space of time (58 per cent), avoiding the distraction of chatty co-workers (52 per cent), and making better use of the time they would have spent commuting (48 per cent).
Another reason that many employees prefer working from home is that they have better facilities, with 60 per cent having modified their homes at some point to make room for their computers. One in five Brits said they have better technology at home, which makes it easier to work, whilst 22 per cent have faster broadband. The average UK household now contains more than five computing devices – double the number owned ten years ago.
The survey showed that employees expect ‘give and take’ in the blended work-life balance. Whilst employees work an average of 3.35 extra hours a week, the average British worker spends 2.32 hours per week at work on personal things.
Two thirds found it easier to manage their career/life balance, because they are able to conduct much of their household admin (such as food shopping, paying bills or banking) online. The net outcome is still a significant benefit for employers, who gain an additional seven working days from their employees over the course of a year.
The research highlighted that the trend was for flexible, rather than home, working with one in four (23 per cent) of surveyed employees “working on the go” and using technology from trains, coffee shops and all manner of other places. Just six per cent, however, worked from home on a full-time basis.
With the right technology, not only are workers more productive, but they are also happier and enjoying a more balanced lifestyle. Many UK businesses have embraced flexible workplaces, whether as a result of the changing business landscape during the recession, or the impact of technological advances, which have led to the rise of consumerisation of IT and ‘bring your own’ devices.
Businesses that support a flexible environment, whilst protecting their data with secure backup, will benefit most greatly from this trend.