You don’t need to work at an all-remote company to know that the best ideas and most productive hours often happen far away from the office. And that's okay, so long as you find ways to connect your teams and the growing proportion of employees that work, well, remotely: At home, at client premises, on their mobiles on the go. Simply outside those four office walls because work, today, is what you do, not where you go. When teams are well-connected those good ideas get shared and workflows remain intact no matter the distance between people.
In the tech space, perhaps more than anywhere, we see a lot of companies where remote working is fairly common (Guess it’s because we often test out our tech developments on ourselves first!). Teams from Hubspot and Traitify to big players like Microsoft and Dell are experimenting with remote working arrangements and out-of-office-based hires to dial up business productivity while others have made ultimate workplace flexibility part of their business models. The shift towards mobility and flexibility is not only rippling through the technology sector, though.
Despite hesitations amongst nearly 50% of UK businesses to encourage any form of flexible working when, really, half of the working population is asking for it, work-from-home policies are catching on across a variety of sectors. We’ve been lucky enough to observe this amongst our own customers who have upgraded business communications to boost employee mobility and accommodate remote working arrangements. More often than not, changing workstyles don’t fit with traditional workplaces anymore. However, mobility and flexibility are by no means just a ‘millennial’ thing spurred by the expectations of a generation that values work-life balance and is at ease with digital technology, nor a mere convenience in the face of rising office rents or public transport fares. It is a question of productivity. And it starts in the office.
Open office layouts, which prevail in UK companies, are partly to blame. So is low access to meeting rooms [Steelcase Global Report, 2016]. Now, it is easy to see how a lack of private space prevents employees from deep, focused work and thinking time while open-plan office noise has the potential for distraction and a knock-on effect on concentration levels. Per office worker, some 86 minutes a day are lost due to distractions, the Steelcase Report found, and 31% of workers felt they had to leave the office altogether to do productive work. Workplaces without strategies to create an adaptable environment and privacy pay the price in in lower productivity.
Chances are you’re not in a position to overhaul your office layout or zone your floor space to suit different types of work and work styles. But running a pilot programme for your employees in collaboration with your HR team, to allow employees to work from home and be their most productive selves, shouldn’t be out of reach. It could, indeed, give you some unexpected results.
"Technology offers the answer to maintaining and growing a collaborative culture even in dispersed work environments."
You will simply need the right communications technology to help each and every employee, regardless of their physical location or individual HR agreement, to connect with each other and back to the office from any location. This way, remote employees can get work done efficiently away from the office hustle-bustle and in cooperation with the right team members as when they need to. VPNs, video, instant messaging and content sharing come to mind. In fact, a whole raft of applications that can the bridge the gap between employees who work out of different locations but need access to the same corporate systems and resources. How much more would you get done if you had all of these available from one interface on desktop or mobile? Just imagine!
Striking a good balance between sufficient privacy and enough teamwork keeps people productive, creative and engaged. How to incorporate new digital technologies into your office to allow for both, you will find out at our Unified Communications Briefing with Microsoft and Polycom in March.
Ready to foster a remote working culture that benefits employee productivity, team happiness and the bottom line? To find out what’s new in workplace technology, voice, web and AI applications for UC environments, join a Britannic Technology Briefing in London!
- Flexible Working