Mobile workers (if connected securely) can form an invaluable efficiency boost to the way a forward-thinking company manages its pool of staff skills. In the UK alone, surveys suggest that British commuters are losing as much as five million work hours of commuting time every day.
Ex-minister for trade and previous director general of the CBI Lord Digby Jones of Birmingham has said that it is time for firms to modernise, change their approach and above all “retrain management” to understand the benefits of new smarter working practices.
Echoing Lord Jones, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has gone on the record saying that, “A growing number of employees want more flexibility about when and where they work. In a recent government survey some five million people said that they wanted to switch to ‘flexitime’ or homeworking. Employers who can meet this demand for different ways of working will gain valuable benefits in terms of improvements in recruitment, motivation and productivity.”
The work-life balance equation
So if we accept the suggestion that employee efficiencies can be potentially increased through mobile and flexible working, should this lead us onward to a point where employee motivation also receives a boost? To answer this, we need to look at what flexible working really means.
As well as working from home, flexible working may also encompass so-called ‘self-rostering’ where an employee is allowed to start office-based work perhaps a couple of hours early, and then leave early or later — catching up on team communications remotely as needed. There is also the practice of ‘condensed hours’ where a worker puts in five days work hours during a four-day week.
These scenarios allow the worker to work according to a schedule that suits their own lifestyle. Motivation and employee loyalty instinctively grows in this situation — as does, naturally, productivity on the job.
A mindset shift from attendance to delivery
There are a number of fundamental ‘tenets’ or principles that should help a company build mobile and flexible worker efficiencies into their business plan. Key among these policies (whatever the size of your small business) is the need for a mindset shift from ‘attendance to delivery’: companies need to manage and measure results based upon what an employee actually delivers for the firm, not the hours of work they put in to make it happen.
Under a robust and up-to-date Internet security umbrella, companies of all sizes should be able to reap the rewards available by empowering their workforce with mobility and flexibility.