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Flexible working: The cultural change

Posted on 27 Sep, 2010 by in Huddle news | Leave a comment

Last week, I spoke about how Generation Y and advances in technology were impacting flexible working practices. Today, I’m going to look at the impact of flexible working on business culture.

Attitudes to flexible working can be split.  Fit around the new breed of workers and you risk alienating non-Generation Y employees. However, the good news is that everyone can reap the flexible working benefits. I think it’s imperative to  bring your existing staff and even your own attitude on this journey too.  Flexible working is a way of working, not a job description in itself and, by its very nature, it’s flexible around individuals.

For those more akin to structure and rigid working hours, flexible working can work for them too.  Downsizing your office space, providing laptops and asking people to work from home might be as foreign to your loyal staff as asking a Generation Y-er to sit at a desk and work 9am to 5pm.  A mix of staff and skill sets is crucial to a strong business so enabling people to work around their individual circumstances can produce a happier, more productive team and greater loyalty to one’s employer.

Working times around families is already a reality today, but what does this mean.  Drop off the kids and then panic about getting into the office for 9:30am or have the opportunity to work from home? Flexible working is personal. If you dislike public transport, reduce your commute with a day a week working remotely. If Friday night snarl-ups on the motorway spoil your weekends, you could always take the option to work from your weekend destination on a Friday.  If you work in an open plan office but struggle to concentrate, pick up your laptop and work from a quiet area even if that means using a free wi-fi hotspot in the café across the road . The benefits are clear. However, you have to  create a working process that enables you to trust individuals. Schedule regular one-to-one time, a face–to-face team monthly meeting or agreed work deliverables.

Studies indicate that by 2020 some 80 per cent of the UK workforce will not be tied in to a 9am – 5pm, fixed-place daily office routine. The world is now connected; our attitudes to travel, money, and personal well-being are morphing. Fail to change and your business might just be fighting for survival.  Successfully implementing flexible working could lead to a high-performing team, a successful business and lower salary costs (16 per cent of people would take a pay cut if it meant they could live in their ideal location and work where they chose*).  Get flexible, get flexible working benefits!

* Statistics from Orange Connected Britain Survey, 2009

More about Colin

Colin White is SME Proposition Manager at Everything Everywhere, one company that runs two of Britain’s most famous brands – Orange UK and T-Mobile UK .  He focuses on understanding the needs of small and medium size businesses in the UK and introduces new communication services in support of their business.  He has more than 15 years experience in the IT & Communications industry.

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