The drive for smarter cities is in part a need to develop strategies that deal with growing populations and limited resources. Quite simply, we can’t keep doing things in the way we did before.
Changes in government legislation, combined with advancements in office technology and improved connectivity has meant flexible working has become a common occurrence in some offices.
As we progress, it’s clear that 9-5 working and the daily commute are becoming in many instances outmoded.
In a 24-7, global world that has jobs and services that were unheard of even ten years ago, the need for greater working flexibility such as remote working, condensed hours, telecommuting and flexitime is more important than ever. And being more creative about how people work can bring about positive business benefits.
A global survey conducted by Vodafone in early 2016 revealed that 75 per cent of companies across 10 different countries have a flexible working policy in place. Of the employees who can work flexibly, 83 per cent reported an improvement in their workplace’s productivity as a direct result.
A significant 58 per cent of employees felt their organisation’s reputation had improved thanks to the policy, suggesting they see their employers in a much more favourable light. 55 per cent of employees who aren’t allowed to work flexibly state that they feel morale would improve with the practice in place.
So it’s fair to say that, to employees, flexible working has become an important perk. One that could lead to happier staff and, perhaps, better staff retention.
Concerns such as a reduction in work quality, a lack of trust between employers and their staff, and worries about tensions between flexible and non-flexible staff are just a handful of the reasons why some organisations are resistant to flexible working.
Remote working technology, including conference calling software, smart devices and cloud-based management systems, lets employees experience the structure and connectivity of the office environment, without actually requiring all employees to be within the same four walls of the office.
Offices – particularly open-plan offices – are full of distractions. Giving your employees the opportunity to get their work done in a distraction-free environment where they feel comfortable and relaxed isn’t just an easy perk, it’s a move that will improve performance and benefit the business.
Any UK-based business with either full-time or part-time employees would be wise to implement a flexible working policy. Every non-agency employee who has worked for their company for more than 26 weeks is legally entitled to request flexible working changes to their contract, which can lead to difficult management decisions should the request come through when there isn’t a policy in place.
Flexible working can help a business to grow in fact employees clearly feel that flexible working increases morale. Working for a boss who shows that they appreciate the fact that employees have a life outside of work is certain to boost positivity and increase employee retention.
Implementing a flexible working policy shouldn’t be difficult. The major investments should be within remote working, by providing staff with laptops enabled with software for conference calling and instant messaging to recreate the connectivity of the office environment.
Smart phones are also a strong addition to the workforce’s equipment, though it’s reasonable to assume most employees will also have their own devices.
By making these initial investments, companies can save money in the long run on office fees and costs and are more likely to retain staff because of their study-proven popularity of the practice, which in-turn reduces the cost of hiring new employees.
Flexible working has arrived, and it appears to be here to stay. Employers would be wise to clue up on the topic and develop a policy that works for them.
Jason Downes is Managing Director of Powwownow UK’s leading free conference call service provider. In addition to providing conference call services Powwownow is a telecommunications company within its own right. Powwownow offers audio conferencing, screen sharing, call recording, scheduling tools and mobile apps for free. Powwownow is a PGi company.