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Obstacles prevent new working ways

08 October 2012

A new BT survey of 650 UK professional services executives shows that whilst nine out of ten feel they can reduce office space and at the same time increase productivity through new ways of working, three major barriers stand in their way – the cost of change (50 per cent), senior managers not recognising the business case (49 per cent) and cultural resistance (45 per cent).

The survey findings indicate that a lack of trust in some professional services firms could also be a barrier to technological innovation. When asked about their organisation’s approach to working flexibly, a significant minority (nearly one in four) of staff in accountancy firms said their senior manager was not supportive because they did not trust teams to use the time out of the office well.

There is also a feeling amongst staff that their office remains the battleground of promotion. Over 90 per cent of lawyers, accountants and management consultants believe a regular presence in the office is essential for career progression. However, although office working is perceived to be useful to gain a promotion, the use of collaboration technologies including the ability to work in new, more flexible ways should not be overlooked; half the senior knowledge workers surveyed (51 per cent) believe better collaboration technology and new ways of working could boost their staff productivity by 20 per cent or more.

The survey indicates that legal firms seem slower in adopting workplace innovation. Within this sector, 65 per cent of respondents said less than 10 per cent of their office space is dedicated to collaboration — such as meeting rooms, break-out zones or informal gathering points — and 62 per cent believe the major barrier to the implementation of flexible working in their organisation is that “it would not sit comfortably with our culture” — the highest of all the sectors surveyed.


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