How flexible working could improve your business

The ‘nine til five’ model continues to be labelled an outdated and, for many, undesirable work model. People have ever-more responsibilities and deadlines, as well as passions and hobbies, outside of the office, and increasingly subscribe to the importance of maintaining a decent work life balance. 

Thanks to continued technological developments and shifting attitudes, the typical business paradigm is changing and the working day is no longer confined to specific hours or locations. Research indicates that people are taking advantage of this too...

Analysis of official figures by TUC this year, reveal that the number of people working from home has increased by a fifth in the UK over the last 10 years, meaning around 1.5 million people now regularly work from home. This may come as no big surprise to many, who recognise the numerous benefits of flexible working, such as saving money on the high cost of commuting and working more convenient hours.

While flexible working might not be desirable for every employee or business, in my experience, there are so many advantages to taking a different approach to typical, outdated methodologies in the workplace.

Talent knows no (geographical) bounds

Every leader knows that without the support of a strong team, success is unattainable. However, the best talent and innovative ideas can be located anywhere, across any global geography. But no longer is this a barrier, and companies now have access to the world’s best engineers, designers, strategists and data scientists - whatever role they are trying to fill - from any country in the world. Even interviewing via video conference is commonplace across many businesses now, connecting companies and candidates seamlessly without the need for long journeys or other logistical complications.

Technology is undoubtedly making the world smaller, so companies should capitalise on this to locate their ideal candidates and engage with them immediately.

Flexible working policy

Some business leaders may be of the opinion that flexible working policies attract candidates who see this model as an opportunity to coast through the working week. The reality, however, is quite the opposite. Research by employee engagement firm, TINYpulse, reveals that people working remotely are (overwhelmingly) more productive, happier and feel more valued.

That said, for a flexible working policy to work well and deliver positive outputs, there are parameters that businesses should put in place to ensure everyone is delivering on their role and maintaining the company’s culture. A flexible working policy should set clear guidelines around data security and insurance so there is complete clarity across these crucial areas; in addition, other company rules should still apply regardless of the location an individual is working in. There is also the option of running a staff survey prior to drafting a flexible working policy to establish what employees would like to see included and accommodate requests as appropriate, making the guidelines as tailored and relevant as possible.

Recommended platforms

Though the Tapdaq HQ is in London, we often work from various locations including the USA, Czech Republic, Canada, or anywhere else we might be for an event or meeting. Therefore, the technology we use to keep in touch with each other and maintain our company culture is extremely important.

Real-time communication platforms such as Slack, JIRA, Skype and Google Hangouts continue to subvert the domination of email across the business world, and it’s not difficult to see why. These platforms create and maintain unity across an organisation, keeping people in constant communication wherever they are in the world. This ‘always on’ communication empowers people to interact in one place, and supports transparency across teams and entire organisations.

As well as supporting external comms, real-time communication platforms lend themselves to internal company meetings and keeping information flowing freely across teams. Video conferencing enables employees to enjoy ‘face time’ with each other, which is essential in keeping teams connected and aligned in terms of activity and deadlines. Screen sharing tools are also extremely useful and enable people to showcase what they’re working on, while also unlocking a collaborative and unified working culture.

Go forth, and work flexibly

Flexible working offers a range of benefits to individuals, as well as companies of all shapes and sizes. There are a multitude of models and tools out there, meaning companies can implement different combinations of each to establish what works best for them. Flexible working can boost productivity, drive employee engagement and, overall, help to maintain high levels of staff retention: all attractive prospects for any business. In my view, companies that can offer flexible working, should!

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details.

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