Flex-appeal remains mission-critical

Almost half (47%) of UK businesses feel equipped to allow employees to do their best work regardless of time and place, while a further 25% are actively working to enable this.

Four in five (80%) UK businesses believe that flexible working arrangements are critical to their future success, new research from DocuSign has revealed. This is particularly noteworthy at a time where recruitment and talent management are the main priorities for the majority (56%) of UK businesses.

Offering employees the flexibility of where and when they work is seen as a competitive advantage by 75% of businesses while the large majority (82%) consider it essential in attracting and retaining the right talent and meeting the demands of the future workforce.

In a sign that businesses see the shift to flexible working as irreversible, almost half (47%) already identify as being equipped to enable people to work effectively regardless of time / location, while another quarter (25%) are actively working towards this. Positively, the pandemic-accelerated digitisation of businesses means that over half have invested in physical employee infrastructure in the last 2 years (54%) as an enabler of greater flexibility.

Ronan Copeland, Group VP & GM, EMEA, DocuSign:

“Flexible working arrangements quickly became a necessity at the start of the pandemic. Now, nearly three years on, it seems the die is cast. Flexible working is an inevitability for most and seen as an important differentiator for many. With companies facing a hot market for talent, and employees and prospective employees demanding flexible options, it’s seen as a critical component of future success. With enhanced remote and hybrid work models here to stay, technology continues to hold the key in allowing businesses to adapt and thrive."

Being able to support remote and flexible work arrangements and enable greater collaboration is cited as a top reason for 40% of UK businesses to invest in new technology infrastructure, and the research suggests that cloud technologies have been a key beneficiary of that shift in focus. In fact, over half (51%) of UK businesses now rely on cloud technologies to manage important business documents, such as contracts and other agreements.

Reducing inefficiencies due to manual processes (52%), onboarding talent (45%), new customers and vendors (44%) quickly and effectively are ranked by businesses as the most critical to business-success in a distributed working environment. But the costs involved in enabling that can often be prohibitive for many, with 44% of UK businesses citing cost barriers as the biggest factor holding them back from further modernising their infrastructure.

“Technology providers should take note of the feedback that now, more than ever, any investment must show a swift return. Those looking to support UK companies to develop their tech infrastructure must show exactly when and in what way that investment will pay off,” adds Copeland.

The research also revealed that the majority of UK businesses (76%) believe digital technologies can make their industry more sustainable, and two thirds (71%) believe digital technologies will help to create a more sustainable future for their company, suggesting that businesses could view the return on investment into infrastructure as greater than the sum of its parts - offering not only efficiency benefits, but also sustainability ones.

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