At last we are starting to see discussion about the true business benefits of enabling flexible working. The Telegraph recently outlined – Flexible working ‘cuts cost to employers’, say business leaders!
Whilst flexible working has so far been marketed as a benefit to the employee and often focusing on working mums, we are now talking about true business benefits. Not only can the rewards be seen in reduced costs but there are the additional benefits such as a happier more productive workforce, higher staff retention, ability to attract a wider talent pool due to offering flexible working options. Offering a high salary isn’t the only way to attract the best talent. Flexible working is a benefit that many people are looking for in todays modern world of work.
Recent surveys have revealed large enterprises and their employees favour flexible working. At the same time, new technologies which make it easy for employees to access all the resources they need securely from outside the office, are becoming available and established technologies are maturing into enterprise-ready tools.
The technologies that drive successful flexible working:
- Mobile devices
- Cloud services
- Desktop virtualisation – provides staff with the same desktop regardless of where they are or what computer they are using.
- Video conferencing
- Social Media
- Bring your own devise schemes
In its New World of Work for Business Decision Makers survey of business leaders across Europe, Microsoft found 90% of UK businesses now allow flexible working.
This is one of the reasons why the UK is set to see a surge in flexible working. According to a survey of over 1,000 CIOs in 11 countries, carried out by Vanson Bourne for Citrix, by 2013 there will be a 249% increase in the number of personal devices used to support flexible working. The research revealed businesses understand the benefits, with 83% believing that flexible working increases productivity.
There is also an opportunity for organisations to cut costs. Wakefield Council expects to save £1m in property costs and a further £100,000 per year in telephony expenditure through deploying technology to promote flexible working.
Meanwhile, a better work-life balance is demanded by today’s workforce and flexible working is even seen as a key benefit when job-seeking. Many people want flexible working options so much they will look for employers that offer it. According to research from mobility service provider iPass, 33% of workers would consider looking for employment elsewhere for better mobile working benefits.
The technology that supports seamless flexible working is also attractive to people looking for work. In its “Future of Work” initiative, IT services firm Cognizant says businesses will change how people communicate in work and with customers. It believes organisations will have to cater for this or risk losing staff to the companies that can offer them the technology they want at work.
But despite the almost universal acceptance that flexible working should be the norm and a good understanding of its advantages, there is significant progress to be made if businesses are to reach their flexible working goals.