Last year, 4.2m people in the UK worked from home, amounting to 13.9% of the country’s workforce, according to the Office of National Statistics, the highest proportion of remote workers recorded since measurements began in 1998. The majority of these were self-employed and more likely to be highly skilled and well paid, with the average hourly rate being £13.23 compared with £10.50 for other workers. The TUC believe that employers are still wary of allowing staff to work from home though, although it can improve productivity and morale, too many employers just don’t trust staff enough to work effectively outside of the office. However, allowing remote working adds to a workplace culture in which employees have a voice and feel that they are valued. This aside, teleworking continues to grow across the globe, year-on-year and this has been facilitated by improved technology and communications. Mobility has enabled better field working, with staff able to deal with paperwork on the fly without having to return to the office. E-learning has improved and is now available on mobile devices, allowing more workers to connect and learn when they’re at home or commuting. And the cloud has meant that technologies such as hosted desktop allow workers to connect from anywhere and access their office desktop applications and work from anywhere with an internet connection.

Managing Teleworkers

Modern communications are powerful, much cheaper than business systems have been in the past, and incredibly flexible. The cloud has enabled much of this; whilst in the past a worker may have only been able to connect to the office via a VPN, now it’s possible to connect in a variety of ways. Intranet portals are often web-based and allow a user to login from anywhere, from any device. Collaboration technologies are becoming much more widely used and can power video conferencing, VoIP calls, shared workspaces and more. Web 2.0 has become more firmly embedded into the company intranet and the modern worker has access to a myriad of tools such as instant messages, wiki knowledge banks, blogs and even social profiles are becoming more commonly seen in a corporate setting. Many companies are also coming to realise that business is changing too – in the consumer setting social media has made significant changes to the way that we do business and this is creeping into the organisation too. Social media brought about change by essentially shifting the power balance between businesses and consumers. A similar shift is being seen in a corporate setting, with many now looking to become more people-centric and this starts with a business’s own people – its employees. As such, the company that allows its workers to carry out their jobs flexibly, is the one that will ultimately win out.

Corporate Culture

company culture and communication Flexibility in working hours and in location allows employees to better construct their days around their families. The 9-5pm day is on the way out and the lines between work and leisure are becoming increasingly blurred. With this in mind, it’s valuable to ensure that communications are set up in such a way that employees can work remotely just as well as they can in the office. Collaboration has been proven to boost productivity and so you should ensure that this too is facilitated. The cloud can be used in the office and for remote workers for:
  • Hosted PBX
  • Video conferencing
  • Storage
  • Shared workspaces
  • Remote/hosted desktop
And much more. Cloud technology is now well-trusted whilst in previous years security was a concern for many. However, as it’s matured so too has trust and we’ve seen businesses move away from basic SaaS models as the only cloud service they use and more into IaaS. For many businesses this has meant a reduction in capital expenditure and ongoing savings when it comes to software licensing and other areas. A business can pretty much operate in the cloud and as such, even the machines used by office staff don’t require a huge outlay as thin terminals can be used.

Business Communications Infrastructure

Another area in which big savings can be made is in business communications infrastructures, and we’re seeing more and more companies choosing technologies such as hosted PBX over the more expensive and less flexible traditional PBX systems. Add to this that less staff based in the office also costs less in terms of energy and other costs and a modern business can really streamline its operation cut costs significantly. This makes for an agile company, that employs people who are willing to go the extra mile, and of course, improved revenues. Not everyone in an organisation will have the kind of job that allows them to work from home of course, and not every employee will want to, but it’s important to offer the choice. Why? Because despite what many executives think, an employee that you give your trust to will more often than not repay that trust with hard work. As mentioned earlier, the employee with a voice will be the one that feels valued and works harder to ensure that he continues to be. Morale is improved, productivity is heightened and overall, the business is on its way to becoming one that’s truly people-centric.

People-Centric Business

working from home and mobile comms

There’s been a lot of research recently into introverts in the workplace ever since Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking was published in 2012. The reason being of course that introverts are often overlooked in a busy workplace where everyone is struggling to be heard. It’s also due to some extent to the trend of the open office, which can be very difficult for the introvert to work in. As a quick overview on the difference, an introvert is someone that takes energy from peacefulness and introversion, it’s when they are their best and when they come up with the best ideas. Extroverts, on the other hand, take energy from others, in that talking through ideas allows them to develop them better. So it’s clear that introverts would suit remote working and could very well get a lot more work done if they were allowed to do so. Allowing this is what a people-centric organisation does. It doesn’t look at its employees as a whole, but recognises that it employs individuals, with varying needs and levels of skill. It’s this recognition that boosts morale, productivity and revenue and in order to really make the most of this, it’s necessary to put the technological tools in place so that workers can communication effectively across a variety of platforms and different geographical locations.

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