02/10/2014

By Joseph Blass, CEO, WorkPlaceLive


Workplaces in Britain saw one of the biggest steps forward in working conditions for decades in June when a new law passed that allowed any worker with six months continuous service the right to request to work flexibly after 30th June 2014.

The options employees can now ask include part-time working, flexi-time and job sharing, compressed hours and working from home or remotely. Many businesses will be seriously concerned how they can offer this, whilst ensuring business as usual and employees are still as productive.

Below are some tips on how implementing flexible working practices can make the workplace a more productive place:

1) Embrace the ‘cloud’ — Cloud computing offers the ability for employees to work remotely. Workers no longer need to be office bound and with the right technology in place including VoIP, Skype, ‘Go to Meeting’ people can work seamlessly from any location. Cloud computing can actually increase workforce productivity by up to 20%, according to research from Pixmania, “staff work two hours more per day if working on mobile devices”. One good option is moving to a privately managed cloud computing service, such as a Desktop as a Service, (DaaS), often referred to as a Hosted Desktop Service.

2) Mix it up - Allowing your staff to work one day a week to work from a different environment like a coffee shop or a co-working space could boost their creativity. The change of scenery and interaction with other people may give them a sense of renewed energy.

3) Don’t Clock Watch - Remember employees have lives outside work, and those lives will overlap sometimes. Try to be flexible if a team member has to leave early for a home emergency or take a day off because his child is sick. Face time is important, but so are results, and being flexible will keep your employees happy and loyal. Remember, that trust is vital too, companies need to demonstrate they fully trust their staff to ensure flexible working is successful.

4) Communicate - Have an open discussion about how flexibility affects people’s responsibilities and how they can be contacted when they are away from the workplace. Keep customers and managers informed of progress and seek feedback on the improvements you and your team have achieved.

5) Flexibility needs to be two-way — Not every proposed flexible arrangement will be right for the business, as the needs of customers and the business have to be prioritised; the arrangements needs to work for everyone involved.

6) Make flexible working acceptable - Be prepared for the changes in legislation and have your policies on flexible working ready. Explain clearly to employees how flexible working will operate and ensure mangers lead by example too.

7) Encourage remote working - Remote working becomes truly enabled through cloud based Hosted Desktop solutions as they allow employees to log onto to all their business applications from any location. It also offers businesses the flexibility to move locations easily, create satellite offices and hold meetings anywhere.

Flexibility in the workplace involves give-and-take. The responsibility for making flexible working must be shared by employees and managers. Together assess opportunities and challenges in any proposed arrangement openly. When there is good communication and a well-understood culture in a team, flexible working hours can benefit a business by increasing staff retention, decreasing absenteeism and achieving greater productivity through increased job satisfaction.