By Claire West
As the holiday season approaches its peak, employees all over the country are getting ready to swap their suits for shorts and head off to spend time in the sun.
As employees disappear en masse, more and more workers are expected to log on to view work email and documentation while on holiday to keep abreast of important deals and to avoid coming back to a built-up workload and a backlog of emails.
Employees have often remarked that the week before they take holiday is one of the most stressful in the entire year, however new technologies such as SharePoint represents one way of relieving this pressure.
With more and more employees working from home and scattered across different office locations, it is imperative that business leaders introduce more effective ways to communicate with their teams and enable them to access knowledge regardless of where they are.
A PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) survey of 1,167 workers in June revealed that 47% rated flexible working arrangements as the most important benefit above performance-related bonuses, which came second at 19%.
These results make it clear that flexible working is a growing trend - and not just for summer. Michael Rendell, head of HR services at PwC said: “Companies that can adapt to the UK’s growing flexible-working culture will be best placed to sustain morale and retain top talent when the job market becomes more buoyant.”
The findings are supported by public policy advisers at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
Mike Emmott says: “Employees with flexible contracts are happier and more likely to be engaged than those on predetermined hours.”
The widespread availability of cost effective and efficient technologies is driving changes in the world of work.
Using Microsoft SharePoint technology is one of the ways in which employers can empower their staff — both to work flexibly and access critical information.
Many workers, particularly senior staff, prefer to check how important deals are progressing and to avoid a build-up of stressful decisions upon their return from holiday.
With record numbers of people now working outside of the normal working hours and not just during the summer, the demands on technology are increasing as a means of enabling this flexible and empowered way of working.
Tim Wallis, CEO of Content and Code, a Microsoft partner that specialises in SharePoint services, says: “It is critical for businesses to protect their most important asset — their people — and one way to prevent demoralising those who are under pressure is to choose technologies that allow staff make decisions on when, where and how they meet their deadlines".
"It goes without saying that if staff members cannot access the information they need, work will be delayed and projects may over-run resulting in loss of business revenue, which is the very last thing that employers wish to worry about. Likewise those on holiday also want to be able to check in on what’s going on.”
Some of SharePoint’s core benefits are that it empowers workers by enabling them to get on with their work by accessing the documents they need wherever they are, and by integrating with all of a company’s existing business applications, it increases productivity.
Employees no longer have to wait for a colleague to step off a flight or finish a meeting to tell them where to find urgent information, and in this way can address both external customers’ needs and internal needs rapidly.
By using SharePoint as a company intranet, important data, from financial information to project status updates, can be centralised, which means that users are able to see everything they need in one place. It is a technology that allows companies to do more without investing in costly additional infrastructure, which is a big bonus in the current economic environment.
Wallis added, “Employees at all levels have reported the positive benefits of remote working, particularly those with caring responsibilities where flexibility is a huge factor in keeping them happy. Other remote workers also value the opportunity of real-time communication with important stakeholders and find the increased levels of customer satisfaction and retention of significant value.”
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