The Traditional Office is Changing. Employees Want to Work Remotely—but Can They be as Productive?

Employees want the ability to work from anywhere—but bosses aren’t convinced the productivity is there.

According to Microsoft Canada’s Flexible Workspaces survey, just one quarter of bosses believe their employees are more productive when working remotely versus in the office. However, 55% of employees believe they are more productive. 

The good news, though, is that 42% of bosses support remote working arrangements for their employees. Having the right technology helps: 95% of bosses and 90% of employees say it’s very important to have the same capabilities when working remotely as in the office.

“What we once considered the traditional office is changing,” said James Nicholson, Deployment Specialist for Windows with Microsoft Canada. “More and more customers, colleagues and technology partners are finding themselves taking business calls from airport waiting lounges, reviewing work documents as they wait at the dentist office or sit on the train, or running important personal errands during their work day. And at the centre of their workstyles, people expect increased technological capabilities to keep up with them—everything from real time collaboration with colleagues to video conferencing and secure access to their files.”

“As workers juggle longer hours and aim to maintain a work-life balance, employers who can offer flexible workspaces to their employees are leading the pack in becoming employers of choice,” says Mike Kennedy, Vice President at Aon Hewitt and National Lead, Health Strategies and Solutions. “We are seeing more and more that employees are seeking out flexible work arrangements and the opportunity to work outside the office walls – anywhere and anytime, from the airport to the soccer field. And as the competition for top talent continues, particularly for the next generation entering the workforce and for the highly skilled experienced talent, employers who aren’t keeping up may be left behind.”

But why do employees want to work remotely? 48% want to finish work they couldn’t in the office; 44% enjoy fewer distractions; 35% want to improve productivity; and 35% want to better balance their work-home life.

“Organizations that will be successful in the future are those that remove the barriers between people, workplace and technology,” added Nicholson. “When you empower your people by creating a workplace that facilitates flexibility with the technology and solutions that help them to be productive wherever they are, you get the most out of your people.”

But bosses cite disadvantages to employees working remotely: the inability to talk face-to-face (49%), lack of focus (26%), lack of accountability (22%), and the belief that employees are doing less work (22%).

“Boundaries between work and life are blurring,” says Carolyn Buccongello, Vice President of Human Resources with Microsoft Canada. “You may dismiss this as a Generation-C issue but this speaks broadly to all generations. There are pros and cons to this new way of work, but it is not going away and technology can become the key to resetting those boundaries.”

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