Almost one in five (18 percent) small businesses are achieving productivity gains of more than 30 percent by adopting mobile work styles, enabling people to work whenever, wherever and however they choose, according to a survey of 1,250 small businesses across Europe, North America and Australia, which was sponsored by Citrix and conducted by YouGov.
The survey, designed to explore the impact of mobile work styles on productivity and management, and to determine how consumer-driven tools are being adopted in the workplace as part of the broader move toward more flexible work, indicated the importance of mobility and collaboration technologies in enabling more agile and responsive organizations.
Despite continuing global concerns over network security, almost one-third (32 percent) of European small businesses sampled have policies, processes and IT systems in place to manage employees' personal devices being used for business, an initiative referred to as bring your own device (BYOD), compared with only 26 percent in the United States, Canada and Australia.
While European small businesses have not yet seen the same efficiency gains as their North American or Australian counterparts (8 percent as opposed to 18 percent), the continent is ahead in establishing governance and management for personalized devices used for business purposes.
Twenty-nine percent of survey respondents find employees provide the greatest pressure for change, outweighing any external drivers, including budget, productivity or competitive advantages. When business leaders were asked what devices they rely on most, 65 percent said smartphones, significantly higher than the number still relying on PCs (58 percent). Tablets are also recognized as key business tools, cited by a quarter of respondents.
"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," Brett Caine, senior vice president and general manager of Citrix’s online services division, said in a statement. "However, it's a concern that two-thirds of businesses overall still don't have the tools and processes to control remote access to their corporate networks."
More than half (55 percent) stated that the strongest driver for combined business and personal use of their devices is that it makes employees' lives easier, and 59 percent of decision-makers stated their staff already uses their personal communications devices for business purposes, most evident in the U.S. (68 percent) and Canada (65 percent), compared with 47 percent in the U.K.
The increased use of social collaboration tools in the workplace is being driven most by small businesses' ability to support effective remote working (cited by 44 percent of respondents) and by more intuitive, simpler, user interfaces (cited by 39 percent). The No. 1 reason for the growth in use of collaboration tools such as video conferencing is the widespread availability of technologies such as high-definition (HD) video and audio, confirmed by 35 percent of respondents.
"The 2013 survey highlights a major shift from the findings of a similar study in 2011. Pressure to work wherever, whenever and however we choose is more common," Caine said. "The real value of social collaboration lies in enabling greater creativity and innovation, by allowing those inside and outside the company to work better together, serving customers, creating value and improving the quality of life."