Flexible working equals happy employees
David Sturges, chief operating officer, WorkPlaceLive explains how small businesses are keeping employees happy by offering flexible working
Flexible working always scores highly in the perks that employees would most welcome, and new research from Lloyds Commercial Banking earlier this month highlights its UK SME’s that are leading the way in offering employees more flexible working arrangements and subsequently reaping the benefits with a happier workforce.
The research found that more than two-thirds of UK SMEs offer flexible working opportunities, and a quarter invest more in this area than they did five years ago. The end result is that employees are not only much happier, but more engaged and more productive.
The most popular practices for staff include part-time or flexible-hours working, and working from home. The firms surveyed said that offering flexible working had improved staff morale and helped them better meet customer demand. Almost half reported improved productivity levels. There has been a growing desire amongst UK workers to work from home for some years, yet many employees have been reluctant to allow this. Last year, You Gov published figures that revealed 70% of us want to work from home more often and yet half of UK companies in the UK (51%) won’t allow it.
Interestingly, the desire to work from home is so strong amongst some people that they would be willing to take a pay cut in order to achieve it. According to research from Cisco last year, 56% of workers would happily earn 10% less in exchange for flexible working. It seems though that it’s the large corporates that are lagging behind smaller businesses in recognising this can be a benefit as much for them, as it is for their employees. Some large organisations have even been accused of moving ‘backwards’. Last year, news that the chief executive of Yahoo!, Marissa Mayer had banned executives from working from home received its fair amount of criticism, accusing her of dragging the company back to the 1980s.
Even Richard Branson joined the debate and commented on his blog that Ms Mayer’s pronouncement was ‘perplexing’ and ‘backwards ’in today’s mobile work environment. He commented, “This seems a backwards step in an age when remote working is easier and more effective than ever. If you provide the right technology to keep in touch, maintain regular communication and get the right balance between remote and office working, people will be motivated to work responsibly, quickly and with high quality.”
Cloud computing solutions
I couldn’t agree more. The widespread use of advanced technologies such as Skype, video conferencing, VoIP, and growing adoption of cloud computing solutions such as hosted desktops, there is no reason for employees to be based in an office at all. People these days can work seamlessly from any device with an internet connection.
Using these technologies, teams can simultaneously share documents and other files over the Internet so they don’t need to be in the office (or even the same country). They can access their emails and files from any location with an Internet access and carry on as normal without wasting hours spent commuting.
There are huge benefits for companies offering flexible working practices, over and above keeping people happy. Companies who adopt flexible working practices can also attract more diverse talent, including mothers who want to work school hours and people with disabilities who are unable to commute into the office.
From a corporate perspective, there are also significant financial benefits to be gained from adopting technologies such as hosted desktops. By truly enabling a remote workforce, business owners reduce the need to rent large office premises and also reduce the capital investment of IT as the software provisioning and updates, security, disaster/recovery are all managed by the provider.
Focus on customer service
One SME benefitting from moving from an internally managed IT system to a hosted desktop solution is Waterloo Quarter BID. This business-led organisation works with and promotes companies in the Waterloo area of London, and benefitted from implementing a hosted desktop solution five years ago. The company wanted to focus its efforts on delivering customer service and rather than sorting out IT issues.
Helen Santer, director of operations at Waterloo Quarter, commented, “Being a small company, we can’t afford to spend time sorting out IT issues and none of us are technical experts. WorkPlaceLive provided us with remote access to our emails and IT systems from any location and all our software, security and backups are managed. We no longer have a server in the office and we have peace of mind that our IT needs are being managed by professionals.”
It is clear that flexible working is something companies should be embracing for multiple reasons; and its interesting that SMEs are leading the way. As the work environment changes and technology evolves, I anticipate flexible and remote working will become the norm rather than the exception, and this can only be a positive thing for business.
Computer mouse inventor dies
The inventor of the computer mouse, Doug Engelbart has died, aged 88. He developed the tool in the 1960s as a wooden shell covering two metal wheels, patenting it long before the mouses widespread use. He also worked on early incarnations of email, word processing and video teleconferences at a California research institute.
Matthew Finnie, CTO, Interoute takes a look back at the evolution of the mouse, and the impact its invention has had on our relationship with machines.
The invention of the mouse was a milestone in our relationship with machines; from tape, to keyboard, the mouse and now possibly Google Glass. For every brilliant piece of foresight that is obvious in hindsight, the mouses brilliance was borne out by its longevity. The same cannot be said for all new innovations, as we also have to be mindful that it is the illogical human who so often derails a seemingly well thought through evolution.
Spend management solutions m-hancements
An end-to-end spend management solution, which can be deployed on-premise or as a hosted managed application has been launched by m-hance, a provider of innovative business software solutions.
m-hance Marketplace (powered by Science Warehouse’s technology) is a fully integrated, end-to-end eProcurement solution which enables businesses to easily compare and purchase goods and services from an established online supplier network. The user-friendly solution can be tailored to enable businesses to rapidly search thousands of products from their approved suppliers in one unified system to drive contract compliance, reduce order processing costs and achieve substantial efficiency savings.
The launch of m-hance Marketplace comes at a time when organisations are placing unauthorised expenditure and contract compliance under greater scrutiny. A survey of 263 senior business professionals in the manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and public sector industries by Science Warehouse has revealed that less than half of indirect spend is controlled in the majority of organisations. 55 per cent of those surveyed admitted that their organisation has less than 40 per cent of spend financially controlled under management. In contrast, 76 per cent stated that cutting costs remains their top procurement priority for 2013 in order to achieve efficiency savings and greater financial security.
Amanda Grant, market development director at m-hance, said, “m-hance Marketplace is ideal for businesses large and small who wish to maintain stricter control over their expenditure and streamline their purchase-to-pay function by eliminating time consuming paper-based processes.”
Through integration with m-hance’s Purchase Management system, once goods or services are requested via the Marketplace, the requisition is automatically routed via a predefined approval route to one person or a number of authorised users. The approver (s) simply click on an embedded link and are able to review and accept the requisition or add comments or queries, further improving purchase-to-pay efficiency and financial control.
VitAL Magazine is a UK based business-to-business journal for senior professionals who are concerned about the business issues surrounding the implementation of IT and how this process impacts the business. Published by 31 Media, on a a bi-monthly basis, and distributed to over 10,000 senior level professionals (click here for the demographics) VitAL Magazine is a must read for anyone serious about modern business.
Each issue of VitAL Magazine is packed with thought leadership articles, opinion pieces, case studies, dynamic news stories, research findings, and witty columns, that cover pressing topics ranging from IT Service Management, Cloud Computing, Network Infrastructure, Security Management, right the way through to corporate social responsibility & green issues, best practice, strategy, and leadership.
The role of VitAL Magazine is that of information provider and voice of the industry and as such the publications mission is to ensure its readers benefit from independent, insightful, and cutting edge editorial that reflects new thinking and trends in an ever changing market. Each issue aims to give its readers vision, inspiration, and the knowledge required to re-think and implement new strategies that improve the overall performance of the business.
As a highly talented and experienced B2B editor, Sophie had served the dental industry as group editor for a number of leading titles before feeling ready to face a new challenge.
Having a BA Hons Degree in Journalism and Sociology, she has always had a passion for writing. This determination saw Sophie begin her journalism career in a large corporate publishing company two months after graduation, and has since gained recognition for her solid track record of influencing magazine growth.
With 9 years’ editing and publishing experience, covering a wide range of industries, including industrial publishing, it’s clear that Sophie relishes a challenge. Through this passion and enthusiasm for learning new things, Sophie believes joining the IT sector has been a great step up in her career as it’s a constantly evolving, fast-face industry that sees new ideas and technology become history in a short space of time.
Her aim is to make her mark on the IT industry. With a fresh and creative perspective, Sophie anticipates and meets the needs of readers through the delivery of high quality, thought-provoking content.
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