According to the UC Expo 82% of British people are more likely to say yes to a role if it comes with flexible working benefits. Most of us would jump at the chance to work from the comfort of our home or from the local coffee shop to escape the 9-5 grind.
Nowadays businesses increasingly need to promote a strong flexible or remote working policy if they want to attract the best employees. However, that’s easier said than done for some. Shifting towards a more flexible working policy can induce anxiety for small and medium sized businesses (SMBs).
The success of small businesses relies on productivity. Employers need to have absolute faith that their employees are being as productive as possible when they are away from the office, as the business itself is very much at stake.
The best way to achieve this is for directors of SMBs to support their staff and their flexible working approach by using the right technology to regain control. A combination of the two serves to improve remote communication and safeguard the trust between employer and employee irrespective of geographical distance.
For the employers that want to overcome their fears of productivity decline here are some key ways in which technology can unlock the potential for greater workplace flexibility.
These can come in the form of instant messaging, video and audio collaboration tools and VoIP phones. Individually these are all great communications methods that promote trust and remove concern while working flexibly. When used in conjunction with each other, they foster a connected and more visible office community. Multimedia tools such as video calls are a great way to squash any productivity issues through face-to-face resolve.
Using the latest collaboration tools, such as video conferencing, peer-to-peer video and web conferencing, is also great way of harnessing technology for a more flexible working approach. It encourages ongoing collaboration within teams meaning a simple phone call can turn into a group discussion with access to shared files.
The “check-in” vs the “check-up”
Rather than micromanaging from afar, adopting a check-in approach to communication is a great way to keep informed on goings on. Whether it’s a 10-minute call each day discussing workloads, a voice message system that converts voicemails to email copy, or internal instant messenger apps, using communication tools to check-in guarantees everyone is on the same page.
Part of any strategy needs to be a discussion with the team about how they would best like to check-in so a dependable process is put in place. The check-in ensures that you’re all on the same page when you’re all online – so that you can relax at the end of your 9-5 day when your employees are working flexibly. Unified communications methods tailored to your team will strengthen trust, and will keep anxiety about productivity at bay.
Employers must allow employees to integrate their smartphone or tablet into the existing office phone systems. This means going beyond the phone and PC combination and allowing all communication to run on the same platform. Syncing up technologies can be done simply and securely. It’s a cost-effective way of ensuring employers remain linked up with employees’ progress, regardless of the device they use.
SMBs need to be ready for change to keep their businesses up to speed with what it takes to be an innovative, modern, mobile workplace. Engaging through devices that your employees are comfortable with encourages easy communication, dispelling issues that could lead to a trust breakdown. A good platform will flex for new products and members too.
Adrian Hipkiss is the VP& MD EMEA for unified communication provider ShoreTel. He has more than 26 years of experience in the communications sector as well as an extensive repertoire for creating, leading and developing high performance teams.