School's out

With half term looming, balancing childcare, your employee’s calendars and your own commitments can put strain on any business. But it needn’t be this way. Making simple changes within your own workforce can result in an improved work-life balance for your employees as well as considerable productivity gains and not just for half term but throughout the year.

Recent Cebr research reveals that there is currently a high demand from employees in the UK to work more flexibly. 94% of UK workers would opt to work from home on average two days per working week for example. If organisational culture throughout the United Kingdom changed to allow for this, there would be savings in commuter costs of £3.8bn, with a further reduction of 533 million hours spent travelling to and from work annually.

With technology enabling us to work from anywhere at any time, it’s time to realise that your employees do not have to be in the office from nine to five, as you will reap the benefits of an even more productive and happier workforce if you allow them to work smarter. By introducing smarter working – which simply means having the option of being productive anywhere, instantly being connected, and making the best use of technology in the most convenient way – your business will benefit.

It is well know that workers who have the tools, systems and processes to enable different ways of working, regardless of being in the office, are both happier and healthier, resulting in improved productivity and lower staff turnover. At O2 we actively encourage our own employees, customers and other organisations to work smarter, so they can be as productive and efficient as possible no matter where they are. Our own flexible working pilot at our head office in Slough, showed that O2 employees saved 2, 000 hours of travel time when they were allowed to work from home for the day, with the majority (52%) spending this extra time with their loved ones. 36% of staff also claimed to have been more productive out of the office. The pilot was such a success that everyone was assigned a ‘flexible working day’ to encourage people to work outside of the office and in a location that is best for them and is going to help them produce the best results.

What’s more, research from Microsoft also found that that 70% of UK office workers “get more done” if they work flexibly, and 38% say they are more creative as a result. The report also found that 92% do not consider having more distractions as the largest obstacle to flexible working. Flexible working is more about choosing a location that best suits your requirements to get the job done. This can mean working from a variety of locations during the day, be that on the move, a coffee shop, a remote office or at home– which is especially important over half term.

But you need the tools, technology and connectivity to enable this. Using Microsoft Office 365 for example can allow multiple team members to work on a document simultaneously and remotely. Simple applications like our conference calling application O2 Just Call Me allows you to dial into calls no matter where you are. All of these tools can be deployed easily across a workforce and are remarkably cost effective.

By Paul Lawton, General Manager of SMB at O2 Business