Empowering employees to work from anywhere, anytime

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Under new Government legislation, millions of employees will be able to request flexible working on their first day of employment.

As the UK comes one step closer to making flexible working the default, what should businesses do to help facilitate the transformation? Here, Ross Slogrove, UK and Ireland manager for cloud-based phone system developer Ringover, explains.

According to the Office of National Statistics, almost a quarter of the UK population now work hybrid. And, as many have testified, the results of doing so are positive. The ONS also found that 78 per cent of people working hybrid report an improved work life balance, and more than half of people say they can get their work done more quickly at home, with fewer distractions.

This has led to the introduction of new legislation, cutting down the amount of time employees need to work before putting in a request for flexible working from the previous 26 weeks down to just one day. That means that, if a company doesn’t state it offers hybrid working, an employee can request they do so on their first day of employment, if they feel it will benefit their circumstances.

With flexible working having many other associated benefits including higher productivity and staff retention, all sectors can benefit from implementing such practices. But how can employers keep employees happy and productive?

Clear communication

One of the most important things businesses will want to ensure is that their staff are able to communicate effectively, whether they are at home or in the office. This can be done by implementing a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) solution. In fact, VoIP is becoming something all businesses need, rather than something that’s a nice-to-have.

Rather than using an analogue phoneline, VoIP allows for voice and conference calls to be held over an internet connection. The software can be installed into existing devices including phones, computers and tablets, facilitating calls over the internet. Removing the need for physical installations also means that the cost of purchasing new hardware is eliminated.

This also means that job-sharing arrangements are more financially viable for a business. In situations where two part-time employees are sharing the responsibilities of a full-time job, not having to pay for extra or duplicate hardware can represent a huge saving.

VoIP can also help facilitate compressed or staggered hours. While many businesses traditionally operate within core hours of nine until five, allowing employees to work when it suits them best can result in the unexpected benefit of being able to extend the opening times. This can mean capitalising on customers that you wouldn’t ordinarily have access to without having to hire extra staff to work unsociable hours. 

Allowing employees to work flexibly can also dramatically open up the talent pool. There is potential to hire employees who may be too far away to commute five days of the week, but are perfectly happy to do one or two. It also means that candidates who have other responsibilities, such as caring for children or elderly parents, have the freedom to do so.

Bringing flexibility to new sectors

VoIP can even help those in roles that have long been considered in-person positions. NASUWT, the Teachers’ Union, found that many experienced teachers were leaving the profession due to lack of flexible working arrangements, with 52 per cent of the teachers they surveyed claiming that their school or college doesn’t offer flexible working.

With many teachers having to work long hours covering parents’ evenings, revision sessions and training, giving them the option to undertake some activities virtually means that they can plan their day around these events, rather than having to stay at the school until late in the evening every working day. And safeguarding can be an even higher priority, with VoIP software enabling call recording so that students can safely get one-on-one help online.

Other sectors traditionally thought of as on-site, like retail, can benefit too. VoIP software can be integrated with retailers’ existing CRM systems, so that whenever employees are on call with a customer, all the customer’s information can be brought up instantly. Having all the information they need in one place makes it easy for staff to quickly understand the buyer and offer them a more personalised experience, even without seeing them face-to-face. 

Employees are increasingly looking for roles that offer them choice. And in a job market where many sectors are facing staff shortages, having flexible working practices could be the difference between attracting and retaining the best talent or losing it. But with the right technology, the transition to flexible working doesn’t need to be a difficult one.

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