Giving employees the freedom to work from outside the office is paying off for small businesses, new research shows.
A study by cloud provider Citrix discovered that more than 20 percent of small businesses in the U.S. are achieving productivity gains of more than 30 percent by adopting mobile work styles that enable employees to work whenever, wherever and however they choose.
The research found that number could be on the rise, as 34 percent of small businesses globally are under more pressure to introduce or increase flexible work practices than they were five years ago.
"It's great to see a ‘work anywhere, with anyone' environment delivering such big improvements in productivity, most obviously in North America and Australia, and that the demand for flexible work continues to grow," said Brett Caine, senior vice president and general manager of the online services division at Citrix.
The research shows companies believe a mobile strategy can help address the drops in productivity that 32 percent of small businesses say occurs during the summer. More than 40 percent of those surveyed believe that offering a flexible work style would reduce the impact this has on the business.
The greatest push for a flexible work environment is coming from the employees themselves. Nearly 30 percent of the businesses surveyed said workers provide the greatest pressure for change, outweighing any external drivers, including budget, productivity or competitive advantages.
Contributing to the increase in mobile work styles has been the use of personal mobile devices in the workplace. Worldwide, nearly 60 percent of decision-makers said their staff already uses their own smartphones, tablets and laptop computers for business purposes. More than half of those surveyed said the strongest driver for combined business and personal use of their devices is that it makes employees' lives easier.
The study was based on surveys of 1,250 small businesses across Europe, North America and Australia.