By Ed Reeves, co-founder of Penelope

Earlier this year Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer caused an uproar in the business community when she banned employees from working from home. The general feedback was that while she might have the best intentions, our fast-paced world is learning to accept and even embrace flexible working and as such, big companies like Yahoo need to get on board.

However, the current discussion around flexible working needs to change as the phrase needs to encompass more than working from home or being a telecommuter. The term ‘flexible working’ should be broadened to include having the ability to work at your full capacity from anywhere, 24/7. For small businesses, agile and flexible working is an integral part of their everyday existence.

Here, I offer my top tips on flexible working in the modern world.

• Find technology that complements your working pattern – The rise of tablets, smart phones and paper-thin laptops has paved the way to make flexible working easier, but don’t be overwhelmed by choice or features. Make a list of the top five actions you need out of a piece of technology and then stick to that list – don’t be swayed by what is trendy or on sale. Speak to a local specialist or read online reviews to find out the pros and cons of a specific technology and then don’t overdo it.

• Call management solutions – If you spend a significant portion of your working day driving or in meetings, it’s imperative to have a system in place to ensure you are capturing your calls. A missed call is a missed opportunity, and in such a tough economy, it’s vital that your customers get their call answered promptly and have a positive experience from their first touch point with your company.

• Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software – Nothing is more frustrating than not being able to access vital business information in an organised, logical manner. CRM software (which can be tailored for small businesses) allows you to store all your company’s important information, like customer names, preferences and contact details, in one place. Most of the big CRM companies also offer a mobile app version of their software for even greater ease for working on the road.

• Protect your data – Working in multiple locations can also lend itself to losing gadgets like phones or laptops and ultimately leave you in a vulnerable priority. To protect yourself and your customers, backup data in external hard drives, install tracking software to find your gadgets if they are lost/ stolen and finally, use software to protect your passwords and any sensitive customer information.

Working away from your physical office needn’t be a headache. Flexible, on-the-go working is the future - just as being able to access your emails remotely once was. And those agile businesses who embrace its benefits will have an edge over the competition in terms of efficiency, cost-savings and overall effectiveness.

About the author
Ed Reeves, co-founder of Penelope