December 19, 2014
Homeworking seems to have become a bit of a hot topic this year, but one sentence published on the www.gov.uk website brought a cold sweat to the brows of many managers and employees across the United Kingdom. “From 30 June 2014, all employees have the legal right to request flexible working – not just parents and carers.” Despite the fact that the law allowing flexible start and finish times and working from home only covers employees who have worked for a company for at least 26 weeks and that the employers are still able to disallow it as long as it’s done in a ‘reasonable manner’, the threat of being sent to an employment tribunal brings some HR managers to the brink of hysteria. But is this really justifiable? The truth is, the new government policy will probably make flexi-work more common, but it’s already being implemented quite successfully across the globe, with plentiful research on its impact so far.
December 18, 2014
Even though many staff would forgo a wage increase if offered flexible working, a large number of employers still do not trust their employees to work flexibly, according to new research from Samsung. The survey of 2,000 employees and 200 business owners found that 28 percent of firms remain sceptical that employees are sufficiently trustworthy to work away from their main place of work and outside normal office hours. On a more positive note, over half (52 percent) of employers associate flexible working with greater productivity and more than a quarter of employees (27 percent) would prefer the chance to work flexibly than accept a pay rise. The report also raises serious questions about the preparedness of firms to offer flexible working, even if they believe in the idea, with many lacking the infrastructure and policies to allow them to do so.
December 17, 2014
It’s getting on for two years since Yahoo’s much talked about decision in 2013 to ban its staff from homeworking but, in many ways, the fallout has continued ever since. Certainly a lot of commentary on the subject refers back to CEO Marissa Mayer’s trend bucking decision. This can only be because it was a defining event in what is an enduring debate about where we work and what that means for a range of factors including our productivity, wellbeing, sense of belonging, access to information, the way we structure our time and our ability to communicate with and develop relationships with our fellow human beings. If those things were the same regardless of how and where we worked, there would be no discussion in the first place. But they do make a difference and there is a discussion.
December 12, 2014
The UK’s technological infrastructure is failing to keep pace with the availability of broadband and mobile services and not meeting demands of small businesses and homes, according to Ofcom’s Infrastructure Report 2014. The report outlines the challenges facing the Government as it seeks to deliver appropriate technological infrastructure for both businesses and consumers. The report suggests that although there is an overall improvement in the availability and quality of broadband services, many remote and rural areas aren’t being connected quickly enough, there are too many urban ‘not-spots’, a lack of superfast broadband for small businesses and no discernible plan for the uptake of the next generation of ultrafast broadband. The report found the average UK household or small business is downloading 53 Gigabytes (GB) of data on their fixed broadband line every month.
December 8, 2014
The widespread adoption of flexible working in the UK could boost the economy by as much as £90 billion each year according to a new report from mobile tech firm Citrix and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr). The study of 1,272 British knowledge workers claims that their ‘best case scenario’ calculation is based on saving UK workers £7.1 billion in commuting costs and over half a billion hours spent travelling. This would add around £11.5 biliion annually to the economy. The report also suggests that an even greater boost to GDP could come from the introduction of a large number of currently unemployed and underemployed individuals such as the retired, disabled and stay-at-home parents. By tapping this pool of talent the report claims that the economy would benefit by up to £78.5 billion annually, equivalent to nearly 5 percent of GDP.
December 4, 2014
The office remains the favoured location for work worldwide but there remains an ongoing mismatch between perceptions of the productivity and performance of flexible working employees and the reality, says a major new report from Dell and Intel. According to the Global Evolving Workplace Report based on a survey of nearly 5,000 employees worldwide, the idea that remote workers are less productive is particularly apparent in developed countries. In the UK, people are two times more likely to believe that colleagues who work from home are less rather than more productive. In Germany, 75 percent of respondents saw the ability to work from home as a special privilege. Meanwhile, of those employees surveyed in developing countries, over one-third (34 percent) see home workers as more productive, compared to 32 percent who believe they get less done.
December 3, 2014
When I worked for a large publishing house in the 90s, occasionally one of us would ask to work from home. My then editor always had an enlightened policy towards the home-working concept, telling people that she didn’t care if they worked in their pyjamas as long as they met their deadline. In the digital era, home working is a lot more accepted, and according to a new survey, working in your pyjamas is still in vogue, though the 10 per cent of people who admit to working naked must have huge heating bills. The study by Altodigital reflects the usual trade-off associated with flexible working, with 40 per cent of homeworkers claiming their productivity more than doubles, but motivation has a limited scope; peaking at just four hours a day, before it trails off. I’d argue that exactly the same thing happens in the office. Just because people are perceived to be ‘at work’ it’s assumed they are working. more…
December 3, 2014
Research sponsored by Sungard Availability Services claims that while almost two thirds (63 percent) of the UK’s senior HR managers believe a closer alignment with their organisation’s Chief Information Officer will be vital in realising their department’s ideas, only 12 per cent currently work very closely with the IT crowd. The findings of the report show that 97 percent of HR professionals believe the CIO is very capable in supporting business growth through technology including enabling mobile and flexible working (58 percent), creating new ways to communicate with employees (64 percent) and driving efficiencies (66 percent) Nevertheless, the HR department profess to be big supporters of technology within the enterprise – with over two thirds (68 percent) stating that if the CIO was not sitting on the board within their organisation, then they should be.
December 2, 2014
I was recently asked to join a roundtable about the future of office working at the offices of The Guardian newspaper. Being a simple soul I was quite confused to be asked about the ‘death of the office’ whilst sitting in an office. It seemed not only alive, but also very present. But maybe the sun is starting to set on that way of working. You can find the overview here and I’d draw your attention to the fact that according to The Guardian I had, after 2 hours, reached a point where I was ‘speaking for the whole meeting’. I’m sure I only spoke for part but it may have seemed more to others present.The conversation was interesting because it seems to be the curse of the modern world to ask bold questions and get fudged answers.Nobody actually thought that there was no role for offices any more – but people did think that more fluidity in the way we work and where we work would be beneficial (for some workers, where possible, given proper recourse to security concerns, insert more caveats if possible…).
December 1, 2014
New flexible working law comes into force today, with shared parental leave (SPL) a new legal right which allows couples to share maternity or adoption leave and pay from 5 April 2015. This means that couples finding out now that they are expecting a child will be among the first parents eligible to take advantage of these new rights. Workplace experts Acas are advising employers and employees to familiarise themselves with the law and has produced a free detailed guide on SPL to help prepare employers and employees for the new changes. It includes a step by step guide on how eligible employees can notify their employer on their intention to take leave and advice for employers on how to deal with SPL requests fairly. According to estimates from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), there are expected to be around 285,000 working couples who will be eligible to share their leave from April. more…
November 28, 2014
The UK Government is very big on evidence based design these days and it is applying this approach in a number of new areas of policy, including wellbeing. Invariably the outcomes of its research and analysis are first refracted through a political prism on their way to becoming legislation, but the approach is very welcome and we should greet it without cynicism. At the end of October of this year The Cabinet Office announced the launch of The What Works Centre for Wellbeing including a dedicated website. The centre has the support of 17 founding partners including Public Health England, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Office for National Statistics, a number of other central government departments, the Local Government Association and the BIG Lottery Fund which means it enjoys wide ranging buy-in from the people best able to shape policy making and is chaired by Lord Gus O’Donnell.
November 27, 2014
A new dedicated drop-in office has been opened by Regus at Sandbach South motorway service area on the M6 motorway this week. With previous research commissioned by the serviced workspace provider revealing that two fifths of mobile workers had dialled into conference calls whilst driving; dedicated workplaces at motorway service areas are intended to help combat the problem by offering a convenient place to stop off and work, for a few minutes or a few hours. The new drop-in offices will be followed by further Regus Express launches before Christmas at Strensham North (M5), Watford Gap (M1), Chester (M56) and Norton Canes (M6 Toll). The facilities will each feature a drop-in business lounge and high-specification meeting rooms available by the hour and are aimed at attracting those wanting to hold out-of-town meetings and self-employed people seeking an occasional alternative to the home office.
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