Or Part 1 of Why Should We Go to Work? Why Can’t the Work Come to Us?
In early 2018, the Work Foundation, a research group based at Lancaster University, produced a detailed report on mobile working. The title of that report was PRODUCTIVITY, TECHNOLOGY & WORKING ANYWHERE and if you are interested in improving the performance of your business, you should take the time to read it. The paper lays out the current state of UK business, with a focus on the negative and long-lasting effects of the Financial Crash. More importantly for us, it then goes on to look at “how the adoption of digital technologies in organisations, alongside the effective use of people and wider resources, can drive smarter working and support the missing business improvements required to turn the situation round.”
I hope that last sentence grabbed your attention the same way that it grabbed me. So here is another key point. In 2016, over 30% of workers were able to do at least some of their work away from their primary workplace. By 2020, the number of remote workers is expected to rise to around 70%. I’m writing this blog post from my home office / dining room, and the chances are fairly high that you’ll be reading it on a mobile phone or a tablet while you commute, chill out in a coffee shop or relax at home.
The key takeaway from this is that mobile and flexible working improves efficiency and supports business growth when it is properly managed and introduced alongside the correct technologies.
Why should we become mobile workers?
The simple answer to this question seems to be that many of us actually prefer to work flexibly, provided that our work / life balance is respected and protected. Mobile working supports the move to more flexible and more effective patterns of work.
A recent survey carried out by Microsoft (yeah, I know, they would say that) listed some of the main reasons given by mobile workers:
- A better work / life balance with more time for family.
- The avoidance of a long commute to and from work, with savings on travel costs.
- A quieter working environment with fewer disruptions and less stress.
All of which led to improved productivity.
Employment Law and Rights group ACAS qualifies this by pointing out that good employers need to ensure that they avoid the two biggest problems arising from poor implementation of mobile working:
- Poorer work / life balance caused by an expectation of longer working hours.
- Isolation and disconnection from colleagues and the working team.
Employers have to get this right in order to ensure that mobile working produces happier and more productive employees.
So what’s in it for the boss?
Well let’s start with a few attention grabbers for the bean counters:
- According to a recent survey by Arise, 58% of workers would be happy to take a lower salary if they could work from home.
- It costs around £6,000 per year to pay the office costs of each employee, giving rise to potentially massive savings.
- When mobile working supports flexible patterns of working, sickness levels typically fall by over 50%.
Even more importantly, the research shows that workers who are encouraged and resourced to work flexibly are more productive and more loyal to their employers.
The challenges for employers are:
- To provide effective management and support structures at a distance.
- To maintain “company culture” for a dispersed workforce.
- To focus on output, rather than employee location as the key measure of a successful work model.
Let’s go back to the Work Foundation at Lancaster University with a statement that looks like a challenge to all of you bosses out there.
“Work Foundation research has shown that outstanding leaders are not only those that think and act systematically, but they also give people time and space to initiate and fulfil their potential.
To sufficiently inspire something new emphasises the importance of creating an openness to business development, innovation and continuous improvement.”
Part 2 of this article will look at how we use our expert thinking and the best available technologies to unlock the potential of a truly mobile and flexible workforce.
If you don’t want to wait, you can contact Active IT to initiate a discussion now.