Technology transforms work/life balance for expats

by Ray Clancy on May 15, 2014

Over three quarters of British expats believe technology helps create productive working conditions, whilst half say it encourages innovation and creativity, according to a new survey.

All respondents who took part in the survey said technology is important to their productivity at work, with 79% declaring it as ‘essential’ and 21% stating it is ‘quite important’.

Expats benefit from new technology

Technology has transformed the working lives of British expats

Some 93% say they enjoy a better working life as a direct result of using technology, with 94% claiming it improves efficiency in the workplace, and 86% saying it saves them time.

A large proportion of those surveyed, 82%, believe it creates mobility in their working life, whilst 67% feel it allows them to enjoy flexible working.

Additionally, more than half claim that they depend on technology to communicate with colleagues and clients in other countries, whilst 92% say it has reduced the extent to which they need to travel.

British expats living in Singapore consider themselves the most proficient users of IT, followed by those in the United States, Canada and Hong Kong. Ranked close behind are expats in Australia, New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates, France, Portugal, Spain, China and South Africa, respectively.

There are numerous ways in which technology has enhanced the working lives of British expats, according to the NatWest International Banking Quality of Life Report. For example, services such as video conferencing allow employees who work away from their colleagues to interact with their team in a much more engaging and collaborative way, despite the distance between them.

It’s clear amongst British expats that relying on their English language abilities to secure employment abroad simply isn’t enough anymore, as IT skills are climbing employers’ list of priorities.

The survey also found that on average, 67% of British expats have some form of flexible working arrangement, either in terms of remote working or flexi time, which allows them to more effectively maintain a healthy work/life balance.

It is therefore unsurprising that those countries that have facilitated this and have a larger number of expats with flexible working arrangements, such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand, also rank within the top five countries in the Quality of Life Index.

Some 85% of expats in Australia said they have some form of flexible working arrangement, followed by 79% in New Zealand, 78% in the United States, 76% in Canada and 74% in France. In Portugal the figure is 72%, in Spain 70%, in South Africa it is 63%, in Hong Kong 58%, China 53%, in the United Arab Emirates 48% and in Singapore 47%.

‘It is clear that technology has transformed the working lives of British expats. It has made juggling different roles and responsibilities much more feasible as individuals who before had to balance being at the office all day with doing school runs, parents/teacher evenings, sports days, etc. can now fulfil both their professional and personal responsibilities simultaneously,’ said Dave Isley, head of NatWest International Personal Banking.

‘For many, achieving a healthy work life balance is an essential part of maintaining a good quality of life, and could be the deciding factor between choosing to move to one country over another. So it’s encouraging to see that more and more employers around the world are embracing this and making flexible working arrangements with their workforce,’ he pointed out.

‘The companies that can provide the tools and culture to enable individuals to make time for personal commitments during the working day, will reap the rewards when it comes to attracting and retaining the best employees,’ he added.

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