One survey has found that 76% of those able to work from home are happy with their jobs, while another poll reveals that 38% of flexible workers feel happier than before, and 36% appreciate having more time to spend with their families.
There are also significant benefits for organisations willing to embrace flexible working among their employees.
Over three quarters of those surveyed said the option to work flexibly has encouraged them to stay at their current place of work for longer than they might have otherwise done, and many believe they work effectively for more of a typical working day than those working a traditional ‘nine-to-five’. A quarter say they put in an extra 6.7 hours more each week on average than when they were office-based.
More than a laptop and Wi-Fi
With around 57% of UK workers said to be in non-physical roles that can be done away from the office, organisations are likely to continue to face a growing number of flexible working requests. Those with the policies and tools to make it work are likely to achieve more.
It needs to be about more than a laptop and Wi-Fi access. Without necessary support and resources, some people, whether they’re working remotely, at home or out-of-hours, may not be performing their roles as well, or as securely, as they could be.
Organisations that have clear policies and properly equip their people can better protect their interests, ensure employee wellbeing and enhance productivity.
Plan for people
Tech planning needs to think beyond the bricks and mortar workplace. An IT investment needs to be led by people’s needs. Planning should include not just organisational aims and customer needs but employee working patterns, and how these are likely to change.
If it’s based on the equipment, accessories and support people need to work remotely, flexibly or in the office, an IT investment will be on firmer foundations.
It's good to talk
Personal contact matters. People still need to talk to each other, and location differences should not reduce the quality of these conversations.
Organisations should ensure that audio and video-conferencing facilities extend from personal workspaces to meeting rooms and into home offices and out-of-office environments.
From making sure office meeting spaces have high quality monitors and speakerphones, to giving all employees noise-cancelling headsets that are compatible with all softphone and web clients, and can be used wherever they happen to be, the easier it will be for people to stay in touch.
When people are working offsite, valuable or confidential data should always be protected.
Ways to protect company assets include privacy filters for laptop and tablet screens which make it much harder for unauthorised individuals to spy on their contents.
Encrypted USB sticks are the safest way for data to be transported, while locks for laptops and lockable device luggage will make it more difficult for the contents of devices to fall into the wrong hands.
One potential downside for people working flexibly can be the temptation to be ‘always on’. But by encouraging employees to clock off once their working hours are up, employers could gain a competitive advantage.
It could be particularly important to ensure people are not working, or responding to emails, late in the evening, when they need to wind down and get ready to sleep. Evidence increasingly proves that a well-rested workforce is likely to perform better.
A good sleep can help individuals become happier, more engaged, and more creative, with multiple sleep studies showing that eight hours sleep a night enhances memory, improves mental and physical performance, lowers food cravings, protects against illness, lowers the risk of heart attacks, stroke and diabetes and improves mental health.
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