• The US and Australia are leading the way as workplaces become more flexible, with France and the UK trailing
  • Millennial workers have reshaped the office to be more open plan and are now leading a drive to greater flexibility
  • More remote working means communication and coordination is vital but workers say that meeting rooms are often unavailable
  • The quality of meetings must improve if workers are to function efficiently

WORKING patterns are becoming more flexible across the world, with the US and Australia leading the way, according to new research, The Modern Workplace 2018: People, Places & Technology, by software company Condeco.

The workplace is shifting towards more flexible and remote working, with staff spending more time working from home, on the move or from multiple locations. In two fifths of businesses surveyed, the majority of staff work flexibly at least some of the time. This figure is highest in the US (52 percent) and Australia (43 percent).

France trails among countries surveyed, with just 30 percent of respondents saying their colleagues work flexibly at least some of the time. The UK also lags behind, with 37 percent.

The research also found that the Millennial generation, born between 1983 and 2000, have shaped the workplace to meet their needs. That means a space that is more open plan, with fewer barriers between desks and multi-disciplinary teams working together in ‘pods’.

Sixty-nine percent of those surveyed said they work in open plan, or mostly open plan, offices. This arrangement was most common in Australia (84 percent) and least common in Singapore (60 percent), where working arrangements remain somewhat traditional, compared with other nations.

This marks a significant change from previous generations, for example the cubicle office of Generation X or the personal offices of the Baby Boomers. The oldest members of Generation Z – born between the mid-1990s and 2000s – are now entering the workforce and they will likely move further towards flexibility, remote worker, and cross-functional teams with less hierarchy.

“This report demonstrates how the modern workplace is changing,” said Peter Otto, Product Strategy and Design Director at Condeco. “Flexbility and remote working are increasingly important to today’s workers. The companies that are prepared for those workers will be able to attract the most talented candidates, both from the country they are based in, and internationally.”

The shift to flexible and remote working puts more emphasis on meetings to coordinate teams, who may be spread across a wide area but still need to be in close communication. This is highlighted by the report finding that workers are more likely to feel that there are too few meetings, rather than too many.

Two-fifths of business leaders worldwide report an increase in video conference meetings, as teams coordinate over long distances. Of respondents in Singapore, 54 percent said they had seen an increase in video conferences – almost double the figure for Australia (28 percent). In the US the figure was 47 percent.

Just over one in 10 (12 percent) said the quality of meetings should be better. That sentiment was strongest in Australia (20 percent), while Germans (6 percent) and those in Singapore (9 percent) were least likely to be dissatisfied with meeting quality.

Globally, 10 percent of business leaders said their employees only have access to suitable meeting rooms sometimes or rarely. The situation was worst in the UK (14 percent) and France (12 percent) and best in Germany (7 percent) and Singapore (9 percent).

“Meetings have a bad reputation as time-wasters but it’s important that companies understand that this is not necessarily the case. Effective collaboration is essential for the success of every organisation.” said Otto. “To remain effective, modern companies must ensure that they commit to providing a variety of spaces to help their teams communicate and collaborate, along with a fast and efficient way to find and reserve space, at any time, on any device.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

The report, The Modern Workplace 2018: People, Places & Technology, draws on a survey of 500 business leaders in six countries: the UK, the USA, France, Germany, Australia and Singapore. This was supplemented by in-depth qualitative interviews with senior executives in the same countries.

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