Has your small business adapted to the work-at-home trend yet? If not, you’re behind the times, according to two recent studies. The Citrix Workplace of the Future survey takes a global look at workshifting, while the U.S. Census Bureau’s Home-Based Workers in the United States: 2010 report obviously focuses more on the U.S.
The Citrix Workplace of the Future report surveyed companies in 19 nations. Citrix found that 24 percent of companies globally have fully adopted mobile workstyles or “workshifting,” where people work at optimal (not necessarily traditional) times and locations. By mid-2014, they are projecting that number will jump to 83 percent.
By 2020, Citrix predicts things will get even more interesting. The average employee will access the company network from six different devices. One-third of employees will no longer work from a traditional office at all, but at home (64 percent), field sites (60 percent) or customer/partner locations (50 percent).
The AdvantagesCompanies that are adopting mobile workstyle programs cite multiple benefits. For employers, workshifting creates a more flexible, agile workplace (73 percent); lowers employee-related costs (53 percent); lowers real estate costs (48 percent) and attracts (47 percent) and retains (44 percent) top talent.
For employees, workshifting offers more flexibility (65 percent), increases personal productivity (62 percent), shortens commutes (61 percent), offers a better work/life balance (55 percent).
If you need further proof that the way we work is shifting, just turn to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Home-Based Workers in the United States: 2010 report. In 2010, the number of Americans working from home had grown by 4.2 million from 2000. And 13.4 million people, or 9.5 percent of all workers, worked at home at least one day per week, while 5.8 million, or 4.3 percent of the workforce, worked at home the majority of the time.
Nearly half of home-based workers were self-employed; however, the number of employees who work from home at least part of the time grew by 67 percent. The biggest growth (133 percent) was in government workers. Now, the U.S. government isn’t exactly a cutting-edge institution—so if you still think letting employees work at home is an idea that can’t work for you, it might be time to think again.
The DownsidesOf course, there are challenges with workshifting, and maybe it won’t be right for every business. One challenge the Citrix study highlights is the risk of the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend. Some 83 percent of companies surveyed say they rely on BYOD, allowing employees to choose and buy their own devices to access the company networks. BYOD can create headaches and hassles for even the biggest corporations, and for small businesses, the risks can be even greater. If you’re implementing work-at-home policies, make sure you have proper security procedures in place to protect your computers, network and data.
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