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Why is IT the best-equipped team for flexible working?

Flexible working has become a normal practice across Europe, with 64% of IT professionals embracing it as company policy. So why are some businesses still struggling to get it right? 

We look at how the IT sector, and those working in IT roles, were better prepared for this seismic change in working practices and what lessons can be learnt.
Many IT leaders have found themselves managing hybrid teams, but has it been an easier-than-expected transition? And what is driving its popularity across Europe?
“Our research predicts that office occupancy will peak this year. We are seeing many companies reducing office space at the end of leases. Going forward flexible working - which is especially popular in Spain, the UK, and Italy – will become the norm for most companies,” says Mick Heys, VP, Future of WorkSpace & Imaging at IDC.
Following the ‘Great Reshuffle’ flexible working is going to be more popular than ever. It is already the ‘norm’ for millions of workers and is an accepted (and sometimes expected) way of working. The ability to work remotely, while still feeling connected to a physical office space, seems to be the preferred method of working for many, especially those in IT roles or an IT business. 

Why is IT a top adopter of flexible working?

IT staff are thriving in this new hybrid world of working, mainly because of the ease of transition. 

For example, the Hybrid Working Survey 2023 of 1,385 participants by Brother found that 59% of respondents in the IT and Communications sector now do a mix of office and home working. This was the second highest out of all the sectors surveyed, behind Finance and Professional Services at 62%. When asked how likely this would change going forwards, 68% from the IT sector said not at all. This shows a positive future of flexible working for IT teams as they realise the benefits and don’t look back. 

Furthermore, IT respondents were more positive about how their employer had adapted to flexible working, compared to other sectors, with 45% rating it ‘Good’ and 25% as ‘Excellent’. 

Although there are clear positives to flexible working, such as a better work-life balance, it comes with challenges too, like having the right set-up for effective flexible working.

According to Microsoft, it comes down to ‘employees rethinking their ‘worth it’ equation and voting with their feet. 

An IT professional working from a hybrid work from home set up

Why did the IT sector take to flexible working? 

The IT sector has responded well to the change in working practices (with 64% of IT professionals working hybrid or remotely as part of company policy) and it is committed to providing flexibility going forwards. It also shows that the IT sector has an enhanced ability to deal with flexible working, as previous challenges, such as dealing with multiple off-site systems, have moulded their expertise to make for an easier transition. 

Moreover, IT leaders were already comfortable with a more decentralised way of working. For example, it was common practice for IT teams to support colleagues in multiple locations pre-COVID. This includes screen sharing to deal with laptop issues or any time remote access was utilised for administrator permissions. This is likely to have had a significant impact as IT workers were more comfortable with a decentralised set-up and connecting with colleagues over remote access systems. 

Shared services are a good example of this, with IT teams working from one geographical location while supporting colleagues and clients elsewhere. Although it’s not an exact precursor to flexible working, it does suggest that IT teams were better equipped than other teams to thrive in a new decentralised environment.

Shared service centres enabled IT leaders visibility of the technical set-up across the whole business as well as the ability to maintain and fix issues remotely. They were also often taking the lead on cybersecurity across a distributed network  – all of which are skills required for successful flexible working and which are now helping them thrive.     

It also figures that many working in IT roles were more familiar with collaboration tools, such as screen sharing and video conferencing, because of the nature of their role. Remote access to machines and progress-tracking software was also well-used among software developers and IT support.  

What do other IT leaders think of flexible working?

However, exposure to a distributed network is not the only answer. IT leaders are also excelling at flexible working because their success is based on output rather than hours. 

Neha Naik, CEO of RecruitGyan explains: "As long as employees meet milestones and deliver high-quality projects on time, it should not matter whether it took them 40 hours a week to achieve these things."

Alvaro Sanchez Galvin, Head of Software Engineering at BIP Solutions, agrees. He said: “I think hybrid working has improved the work/life balance for IT teams without compromising on productivity or focus. 

“This is the main reason why IT teams adapted so well because they soon started to see the benefits for themselves. The type of work is also something that helps, to do our job the only thing you need is a computer and broadband, which helped us move quickly to this new reality.”

Successful flexible or hybrid working depends on having the right equipment at home, as well as in the office. As we have seen, the workplace is changing. See how Workplace by Brother is helping IT professionals deliver seamless working experiences for colleagues working in any environment. 

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