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Privacy issues driving shift away from out-of-office work

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Privacy concerns among business professionals are driving a backlash against conducting work activities in out-of-office locations such as cafés, hotels and public transport, according to Regus.  

The global workspace provider surveyed 1,090 Australian professionals about their preferred locations for undertaking work activities. Four in five respondents (80%) said their biggest concern about working outside the office was a lack of privacy.

This follows on from earlier research commissioned by Regus, showing public transport, cafés, hotel bars and lounges, aeroplanes and campus-style work canteens are locations that put sensitive business information at risk.

While a majority of professionals were happy to read their emails at a café or on public transport, 67% said they did not respond while taking their coffee and 55% preferred not to reply during their commute.

Further, one in respondents (50%) revealed that their car or a hotel was the next best location outside of their office to field a phone call, while a business lounge was more preferable for higher concentration tasks such as sensitive emails (49%) and checking and approving documents (46%).

Public settings not suitable for everyday tasks

Commenting on the study, CEO of Regus Australia and New Zealand, John Henderson, said that while flexible working practices are being increasingly embraced, public settings such as busy cafés and bustling trains do not provide professionals with the privacy needed to conduct many work activities

“With Wi-Fi available nearly everywhere, it is certainly convenient to stop at a café and quickly skim through emails on a smartphone,” he said.

“However, away from the office, non-professional environments are simply not suitable for everyday work tasks that require time and sensitivity.”

Professionalism and productivity 

Henderson said research has confirmed that for some tasks a more professional and productive environment is required.

“Business lounges and professional co-working spaces are ideal for phone calls or conference calls, as users don’t have to worry about losing reception or being disturbed by fellow commuters,” he said.

“A bad line or background noise can affect the professional image of a business so this is an important consideration when calls involve a client or prospect.”

Henderson referred to a UK study suggesting three quarters of British employees feel less productive away from their desk than when they’re sitting in an office environment.

“This highlights the need for touch-down environments where on-the-go professionals can carry out urgent tasks efficiently and productively, but also fully protecting the sensitivity of their business information,” he said.