It’s no secret that attitudes towards work have dramatically changed in recent years. We’re moving away from a restrictive 9-5 working day, unchaining ourselves from the constraints from the office, and embracing innovative technology to allow for greater flexibility. Businesses understand this change in attitude and are starting to make some effort to appease the workforce. More needs to be done however, to make flexible and remote working a universal reality.
Just last month we saw research from job site Timewise reveal that just 8.7 per cent of jobs advertised in the UK offer flexible working options at salaries of £20,000+, this is an unfortunate statistic especially as the UK government’s flexible working initiative went live nearly two years ago. So how can businesses fully embrace flexible working, and what technology is available to them to ensure the process is smooth and hassle free? Below we take a look.
Providing a modern worker experience for the 24/7 generation
In our changing ‘always-on’ and mobile working environment, it’s increasingly the case that firms must equip workers for time spent away from the office. Especially where it will free the employee to operate more efficiently from another location. Take for instance; when weather and travel issues prevent access to the office, working from a customer’s site, or during downtime when travelling and between appointments. These scenarios comprehend the benefits that technology can open up, to ensure more value out of an employee’s working day.
Consider also the evolving characteristics of the workforce. A consumerisation of technology means that the modern employee is savvier than ever, and will often use cutting edge hardware, tools and online resources for personal use before they even enter a business context. In a recent BlueJeans study, it was revealed that only one in seven employers is good at providing comms tools at work that mirror what the employee uses at home. If they don’t want to risk alienating the next generation of tech-savvy workers, business leaders need to start considering the upgrades they can introduce.
Flexible working ensures a productive work-life balance, with the potential to influence positive cultural change across the whole business. Fail to get it right, and firms may find themselves losing out to the competition.
It’s time to go with the flow
Businesses are increasingly supporting this new approach to working culture, so why exactly is there still a reluctance to fully embrace new attitudes to work?
It could be argued that this is down to a common perception that the strongest rapports are built through face-to-face conversations. Socially, only ten per cent of an interaction is actually spoken, 30 per cent is tone, whilst 60 per cent of all human communication is from the body language we put forward. This makes the presence of face-to-face communications a vital approach to doing business. People tend to buy from other people. After all, if you couldn’t see a salesperson’s face, could you really trust what they are saying?
This sentiment can be echoed at different levels of a business, as some stakeholders remain reluctant to fully embrace a remote working model that takes the worker a step further away. To ensure seamless adoption, this audience will need to be persuaded that technology can open new doors so that the way workers communicate with their colleagues, customers and prospects isn’t hindered when operating remotely.
Face to face communication across the globe
What technologies are currently available to support businesses placing a focus on flexible working? Above all, video-conferencing and remote collaboration tools can help workers keep in touch and remain involved with the business, as if they are sat in the same building.
Live video meetings can occur at any time of day, regardless of location, and at minimal cost. And in most cases businesses won’t even need to purchase new equipment to benefit from the latest video technology. An employee is then able to be cast anywhere around the globe, whether attending a meeting in Australia or a few streets away from home.
Such developments in video collaboration has enabled remote workers are able to engage and connect “face to face”, whether for training, troubleshooting customer issues, or product collaboration. The opportunities are rife, and 72% of employees feel that live video is set to play a useful role in the next two years. In the same study, it was found that 36 per cent want to see live video used more over other methods such email (27 per cent), instant messaging (26 per cent) and phone calls (24 percent) as they believe it will create stronger relationships and even reduce the volume of daily emails.
This is understandable, as 85% of workers said they use video communications as part of their personal lives. So, if the employer really wants to transform the way its workforce operates and communicates, video should be a priority route - yet 72% of employers don’t currently encourage its use in a work context. A fresh approach is clearly required, to make a real difference.
With technology evolving at a rapid speed, the remote workforce is better equipped than ever to ensure they get results, irrespective of where their desk is located. In a digital era employees can be just as productive both in and outside the office, it’s now down to businesses to provide the right technology which allows them to do this.
By James Campanini, VP EMEA at BlueJeans