Guest blog: How to stay secure when working from home - By Alex Tebbs, co-founder of unified communications specialist VIA

Guest blog: How to stay secure when working from home - By Alex Tebbs, co-founder of unified communications specialist VIA

The latest statistics on flexible working show that it’s the new normal for British workplaces. It’s no longer a desirable benefit, but something that’s seen as a key component in becoming an ‘employer of choice’ and providing employees with a better work-life balance. 

According to one 2017 survey, 58% of employees are already offered some form of flexible working arrangement. Another survey puts that figure at 63%, which rises to 87% when you include workers who say that they would like their business to provide the option if they don’t already. 

In addition, 70% of workers say that flexible working makes a potential job more attractive to them and it’s hard to imagine an employee who currently benefits from it moving to a new job where they wouldn’t. Perhaps more than any of the others, these statistics should encourage forward-thinking employers to consider implementing a flexible working policy.

Understanding the risks and benefits

However, any policy that allows employees to work outside of the office comes with security risks. Proper precautions must be taken to ensure that these risks don’t turn into problems that outweigh the benefits of flexible working. 

In this article, we’ll focus on three areas of risk: online security, hardware and offline risks that come from using paper materials. Each of these areas demands a different solution, but employers can’t afford to ignore any of them.

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Guest blog: The sounds of the office - By Dr Harriet Shortt, Associate Professor in Organisational Studies, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England

Guest blog: The sounds of the office - By Dr Harriet Shortt, Associate Professor in  Organisational Studies, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England

Think about the sounds of your office or place of work. Phones ringing; printer printing; coffee machines percolating; office banter; traffic; laughter; raised voices; steps down a corridor; the hubbub of the canteen; the lift ‘pinging’; the clicking of heating pipes in a radiator; the gentle whir of a laptop; the hum of a hairdryer; the swish of a mop; the car engine; the radio; the colleague next to you eating their lunch…

Our senses are varied but our understanding and exploration of the sounds of work is limited. Contemporary organisational research and debate in this area is strangely silent and there is a sort of hierarchy to the senses where images and the visualisation of work and our offices make up a vast part of our hyper-visible/ visual society. In this blog (which is a kind of think-piece on the topic), I’d like to suggest we consider what we hear at work and why it might be important. What are the sounds of the workplace? What do employees hear when they are at work and what do these sounds mean to them? Do you have music in the office – if so, should it be a playlist or the radio? And what are the ‘unmanaged sounds’; the murmurs and auditory normality of everyday life? As is often the case with the familiar and the ordinary, we let it pass us by and rarely stop and examine (or listen to!) how these aspects of work may give us greater insight into the cultural experiences of everyday life in an organisation.

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Guest blog: Being smart about flexible working - By Stefanie Reissner, Newcastle University & Michal Izak, University of Roehampton

More and more office workers now can work flexibly: from home or a café, interspersed with the school run or a lunch with friends – and without the commute. Such flexibility brings opportunities and challenges for individuals and organizations, which we have researched thanks to funding by the British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust.

The advantages of flexible working are already well documented. It allows individuals to have greater control over their time and combine work with other commitments. Gone are the days when carers (particularly women) had to decide between working and caring. Now, parents and grandparents can attend a school play in the afternoon and catch up with work in the evening, helping them to improve their work-life balance. Or they can work at a nearby café whilst their offspring attends an extracurricular sport activity they needed a lift from parents to get to. Similarly, carers can now attend appointments with external parties during the day and finish off their work later without having to book time off, helping them to shoulder the burden. Our research (and that of others) has found that staff will often repay their organization by working longer and harder.

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Guest blog: The homeworking revolution has stalled - what's gone wrong? - By Frances O'Grady, General Secretary of the TUC

Guest blog: The homeworking revolution has stalled - what's gone wrong? - By Frances O'Grady, General Secretary of the TUC

Millions of working people would like to work from home, at least some of the time. And organisations that facilitate homeworking have been shown to be happier and more productive places to work.

For those with caring responsibilities – most commonly women – homeworking can be a gamechanger, allowing them to balance work and care rather than having to leave the workplace altogether.

And it makes work more accessible too, with 200,000 disabled people working from home.

It’s also good for employers: boosting motivation, making a company more attractive to new talent, and ensuring that experienced staff don’t have to quit if their circumstances change.

Today is National Work from Home Day, an event organised by Work Wise UK to highlight the benefits of working from home as part of creating smarter workplaces across the UK.

Unfortunately, new figures published by the TUC today reveal that the number of people regularly working from home in 2017 (1.6. million) remained unchanged from the year before. 

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Guest blog: Embracing technology to improve productivity and boost the economy - By Gerry Brennan, CEO of Cloudbooking - a UK based agile solutions provider.

Guest blog: Embracing technology to improve productivity and boost the economy - By Gerry Brennan, CEO of Cloudbooking - a UK based agile solutions provider.

Whilst previous UK economic downturns have always seen a bounce back in economic growth following an initial dip in productivity, 2008’s financial crisis has been different. In the years since the last UK recession, productivity has remained low, in spite of the reduction in unemployment levels.

The UK economy has only grown 9.7 per cent since the downturn; only returning to its pre-recession size in quarter two 2013, making it the slowest recovery in terms of output since the 1920s.

Last year in particular, the UK slipped to the bottom of the table when it came to growth in its economy. As other EU countries experienced growth, the UK saw a slowdown.

This is surprising, considering that the unemployment rates have dropped a staggering 4 per cent in the past four years; reaching a 40-year low of 4.3 per cent.

One would think that employment and productivity were correlated, however, this doesn’t appear to be the case at present. Whilst the Netherlands, Germany and the US, each of which have similar or better employment rates, all have a 30 per cent or greater advantage in the output generated for every hour worked.

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