Irish business lacks faith in flexible working

19 Oct 2005

Only 12pc of Irish companies believe they would gain competitive advantage by having staff work at home or away from the office, compared to 30pc in the rest of Europe, according to a new survey gauging interest in the concept of flexible working.

The survey, carried out for Citrix by Coleman-Parke, was based on questions to 100 executives from the top 1000 companies in Ireland, UK, France, Germany, Belgium and the Nordics. Terry Brady, account manager at Citrix channel partner Cara, tried to explain why a country that perceives itself as high-tech is bottom of the rung when it comes to seeing the benefits of remote working technologies. “From a historic perspective, people were firefighting when it came to flexible working,” says Brady. “There was a lot of money spent at a time when the technology was too complicated and harder to control. It was put in place and maybe never used. Now there’s probably a perception problem in the marketplace.”

Christopher O’Toole of Citrix Ireland remained optimistic that things would change quickly: “Some of these people are still waiting to be convinced, but success will breed success. If we come back to this in 18 months time you’ll see different statistics.”

The survey sent out mixed signals with eight out of 10 recipients believing that flexible working improved employee efficiency while only three out of 10 thought it could lead to increased turnover. Compared to the rest of Europe, Irish executives were less worried about data security issues and the difficulties of managing and motivating staff. Half of Irish employees believed access to remote working tools would improve their own performance and productivity.

For Citrix, the leader in access and infrastructure solutions that enable remote working, the survey reinforced its belief that the adoption is more about the human impact and culture change than the technology.

“If you are going to offer flexible working you have to think what that means. It’s brilliant to get more flexible but you have to have appropriate policies in place,” warned Lewis Gee, Citrix area vice-president for UK Ireland and South Africa.

By Ian Campbell