06/08/2015

By Paul Lawton, General Manager of Small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) for O2 Business

Estimates on the economic cost of a Tube strike vary, but a recent estimate from London think tank Cebr suggests it could wipe £10 million from the city’s economy. Yet this cost doesn’t have to be passed onto your business. Thanks to the rise of the digital economy and associated technologies, remote working has never been easier.

Whilst the majority of workers in the capital will still be attempting to get into the office, small businesses should be embracing the opportunity. The tube strike is a great time to trial flexible working practices and tools with employees to reap the related benefits. Multiple studies have shown that workers can be just as productive, if not more so, when working remotely. For example, working from home during a strike means that instead of spending an hour or more on a delayed train, workers can use that time which would have otherwise been wasted.

We’ve transformed our business with flexible working solutions. Our staff achieve more, they have a better work life balance and ultimately the benefits are felt on the bottom line. As an organisation we are more prepared for change, so despite the disruption this week it will still be business as usual for us.

You can transform your business too. Affordable technology already exists to allow small businesses to work smarter and more effectively, no matter where employees are. Tools that enable remote working such as cloud based technology Microsoft Office 365 is a good place to start.

As more people become aware of the Government’s Flexible Working legislation giving any employee in the UK the right to request the ability to work flexibly, small businesses need to be thinking about how they can make it work for their specific business needs. And equally small business owners need to make sure that their staff see working from home as a great opportunity to be more productive and improve their work life balance.

Before the Olympics, we conducted our flexible working pilot at our head office in Slough showed that O2 employees saved 2000 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 best for them.

The tube strike is the perfect time to trial out some smarter working initiatives in your own business. Instead of struggling through the week with a depleted team, seize the opportunity to test run your staffing plans for half term and even the Christmas holidays.