Could 2012 be the year that flexible working becomes standard in the UK? With today marking the seventh UK National Work from Home Day, I thought it would be a good chance look at the perfect storm of business pressures and technological opportunities that has led to the widespread adoption of such a useful practice.
It’s no secret that many British businesses are wondering how they can weather the financial storm that has engulfed Europe, without cutting productivity, staff or performance. Office space and travel are two areas that can suck thousands of pounds out of a budget while often delivering little value.
In a similar vein, employee satisfaction is difficult to keep high in times where there is just no money for cash incentives or other perks to keep talented staff. However, creative HR teams can develop packages tailored to individual employee needs, like flexible working times and conditions, which can have a huge impact on someone’s work/life balance.
Imagine you’re the father of a newborn. Working for a company that allows you to do your job from home means you can avoid wasted hours commuting and ensures you can spend more time with your family.
Cost pressures and employees concerned with work/life balance have been issues for generations. It’s only now with the proliferation of affordable and easy-to-use technologies such as high-speed broadband, HD video communications and cloud computing that workers have the opportunity to access the tools they need to do their job as well, or better, and stay in direct contact with colleagues and partners when they are out of the office.
The convergence of the opportunities afforded us by technology and the pressures of our economic climate has driven flexible working to the front of the agenda.
We now also have excellent examples in the public sector where flexible working schemes are being rolled out to combat the difficulties London commuters will face during the London Olympics.
Operation ‘StepChange’ will see thousands of public servants work from home during the Olympics and Paralympics thanks to flexible working arrangements. We’ve already seen the trial days go off without a hitch and there’s every reason to think there will be no loss of productivity (or at least no more than usual).
With some clever planning and support from the government then perhaps next year we won’t need a “working from home day” – we might all already be there.