Many businesses have been talking about the age of flexible and mobile working for a long time. For many businesses and employees, however, it remains a concept that is discussed, but not practiced widely. That may be about to change when the new Flexible Working Directive comes in to force, meaning that companies will have to have a response to their employees on the topic.
As of 30th June this year, employees with more than six-months of service will have the right to formally apply to work flexibly. The newly available options include working part-time, flexi-time, compressed hours, and working from home altogether. Although employers won’t be compelled to grant applications, it does present an opportune moment to take a serious look at flexible working and the benefits it can bring to an organisation.
The mere mention of flexible working is enough to daunt even the sturdiest CIO. How can you incorporate flexible working practices into the IT estate, while maintaining productivity and efficiency? The issue of data security also can’t be ignored. Claranet’s own research has found that 70% of businesses are concerned with the increased data loss posed by BYOD, while 51% fear that mobile working leads to less control over how data is used. A similar proportion (50%), believe it poses a greater risk of unauthorised access to IT systems.
Offering a flexible work pattern has been shown to increase trust-levels and commitment from employees, which will ultimately improve productivity. Claranet’s research recently found that of those organisations that have implemented a mobile working strategy, 88% of organisations have boosted productivity and performance; 42% said it makes working practices more efficient; and 41% have improved customer service.
Take our customer BETE Ltd, which has taken mobile working as far as it can go: all of its employees work from home. The company, a distributor of industrial spray nozzles, does not have a central business office. Instead, employees work from home and access the corporate network via private cloud. The money saved by not maintaining business premises can instead be ploughed back into the business, giving the company an advantage at a time when many small firms are gearing up for growth as the economy recovers.
In the words of BETE’s Marketing Manager, Ivan Zytynski: 'At BETE, we want to run a company that really is different from others; where staff can enjoy working from their own homes, and to their own flexible timetables. While some firms might be scared of homeworking because of the difficulties of monitoring staff, our employees have all responded wonderfully to the trust that we have placed in them.'
Technology – more specifically, cloud computing – is key to the success of any flexible working strategy. Increasingly sophisticated cloud-based applications mean that workers no longer need to be bound to their desks to stay engaged and remain productive. Using a Hosted Desktop, for example, employees can seamlessly access their own desktops and full suite of business applications securely, from anywhere and on any device.
It’s important to note, however, that not all cloud providers are equal. When you rely on the internet for every aspect of business operations, reliability, technical support, and data privacy and security are paramount. Opt for a supplier that will craft a solution around your desired working practices and not neglecting the importance of reliable connectivity. In doing so, it’s possible to develop a solution that will balance the need to enhance efficiency and safeguard data security, while enabling employees to work the way they want to.
Sourced from Michel Robert, UK Managing Director of Claranet