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Small business employees value flexible working

Many employees appreciate being able to work away from the office, either on a regular basis or just occasionally to help ensure a better work/life balance. And while it's easier for larger organisations to accommodate flexible and home working, small firms should also consider allowing it wherever practical.

Over half (52%) of small business employees would prefer to take a pay cut rather than be restricted to working only in an office, according to new research by digital security specialist Avast.

The Mobile Workforce report, which surveyed 1,850 employees who work for small businesses in the UK and US and who spend at least one day a week working from home, also found that 12% of respondents would choose the flexibility to work from home over a pay rise, even if they were offered an increase of 25%.

As well as helping smaller businesses to attract workers by offering modern working practices, mobile and remote working also has other benefits, Avast found.

Over a third (34%) of the employees surveyed said it made them happier, and 32% claimed that it makes them enjoy their job. Flexible working may also have a positive impact on quality of work and productivity, with 38% of employees saying that they are most productive when working from home compared with 35% who felt they were more productive in the office.

Businesses need to be aware that flexible working practices could pose a security risk, however; one in five (21%) employees stated that they are most productive when working in public spaces like a cafe or library, but only 18% are concerned with the security implications this could have.

Meanwhile, 38% said they don't receive the technological support or expertise they need when working from home or in a public place.

The findings suggest that small firms face the challenge of keeping their business secure, while meeting the needs and expectations of the modern workforce.

"The 9-5 workplace is a thing of the past, and the employees entering the workforce today are demanding increased flexibility with hours, location, and personalised benefits," commented Kevin Chapman, senior vice president and general manager at Avast Business.

"Whilst proven in some cases to increase employee satisfaction, and even productivity, there are very real security issues that need to be addressed," Chapman added. "Businesses need to be in a position where they provide the tools that not only enable flexibility, but do so in a secure way. It's also important not to forget those employees that would prefer to remain in a traditional office environment. A balance must be struck to enable all employees to work in a way that is most beneficial to them."

Small businesses looking to adopt flexible working need to make sure they provide security measures such as Virtual Private Network solutions for use on open Wi-Fi connections and anti-malware endpoint software for all employees using their own handsets and tablets.

This should be coupled with training and education for employees on the role they have to play in the business's security, Avast concluded.

Posted on December 10th 2018

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