A massive three quarters of companies around the globe have now introduced some form of flexible working (according to a 2016 worldwide business survey carried out by Vodafone) reports Superfast Business Cornwall. These include allowing employees to vary their working hours, moving them from fixed hours to flexi-time, job sharing schemes and using the latest technologies to allow staff to work from home or work on the move.
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What is striking is the degree to which these companies said that their business performance had been enhanced by the introduction of flexible working:

·         61% said that their company’s profits had increased

·         83% reported that productivity had improved

·         58% believed that flexible working had enhanced their business’s reputation

The arrival of Superfast Broadband and new digital technologies has freed many employees from being tied to a specific office location and allowed them to work effectively from multiple locations, from home, on the move, or anywhere where there is wi-fi.

Route to higher productivity

People who work from home have fewer distractions and are able to concentrate more fully on the task in hand. Without a stressful morning commute, they ‘arrive’ at work in a better mental state. They don’t suffer from time-wasting drains on their time, like unnecessary meetings and interruptions from colleagues. Plus, flexible working improves staff morale and motivation, leading to better staff retention.

The management approach changes as well. Rather than watching people at work, managers have to give clear goals to their teams and manage by outputs and deliverables. This helps to instil more discipline and focus in the way people’s workloads are managed. And then, of course, there are the overhead savings to be made by not requiring so much head office space…if any!

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How you can work flexibly

So it makes sense for all businesses to consider what role flexible working could play in helping to improve their effectiveness. Review your strategy and see how it might help you achieve your goals, and in what areas of the business it could be the most benefit.

There is a vast range of new technologies that can help you. A Superfast Broadband connection will allow you to set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN), giving staff working from home secure access to all your IT systems. You can use cloud computing services to supply the software platforms you need on a subscription basis, with no need for big capital outlays. There are many easy to use software tools that can help you manage remote working teams, covering aspects such as video conferencing, project management and document sharing. Modern mobile communications make it much easier for teams in different locations to keep in close contact.

Remember you can always start gradually and phase in your flexible working practices over a period of time, giving your teams time to adapt to the new ways of working.

Read Superfast Business Cornwall’s Guide how flexible working can help business.

The Superfast Business Cornwall programme helps businesses understand, adopt and exploit digital technology, the service is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and delivered by Serco Employment, Skills and Enterprise. 

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Written by: Julia Hughes
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