I am immensely proud to report that Work Wise Week 2015 has been our most successful yet, with wide National Press and Social Media coverage and inspiring articles from our Guest Bloggers. The blogs featured on our web site have all contributed a huge collective knowledge to any organisation wanting to work smarter and become more productive.
This is our 10th year of promoting Work Wise Week and Smarter Working across the UK and the momentum for increasing our workforce productivity is now firmly on the agenda of business leaders in organisations large and small. The mind set of what’s possible is changing, culture change is happening but takes time as many of us will recognise only too well!
Increasing labour productivity is not a question of working harder or longer hours; it’s a question of Working Smarter or more productively, which means making the best possible use of People, Process, Premises and Technology. Fully understanding the critical relationships in balancing and investing in these key resources is essential to creating greater business efficiency.
As our Guest Bloggers have said ”The shift in mind-set is playing a big part in shaping our working culture into a more flexible one. Smart businesses are already seeing the benefits of remote working”. Home-working can substantially boost people’s access to the labour market. Over the last 10 years homeworking has increased to over 4 million. Around 650,000 disabled people now work from home and flexible working has contributed greatly to improving the chances of disabled people finding work.
Flexible working is a phrase that has remained on the lips of business leaders and government for several years now. We are investing millions of pounds every year in the infrastructure required to create an environment in which the most flexible and efficient businesses can thrive. The messages from our bloggers this week all point to a need for the UK to prosper and for our citizens to see the benefits. Organisations need to urgently ensure that they have a robust and future-proof digital way of operating. This means enabling employees to work smarter by providing them with the technology, tools and trust required to work from wherever they need to.
Successful remote working is of course dependent upon technology and there are a growing number of companies using cloud technology with BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), so people in companies can use their own smart phones, tablets or laptops. This more flexible attitude is growing as the obvious barriers of security and data protection begin to reduce.
Cloud based IT and communications systems can help to underpin the recruitment management process and support accounting, administrative and marketing activities. Data is stored offsite in secure data centres allowing staff access, remotely via the internet. IT investment and understanding massively increases the capacity of business to develop and ensure that they are able to attract the right skills and talent no matter where they are based.
Many people can now describe themselves as true “anywhere workers” thanks to technology and the changing cultural attitudes of business managers and leaders. “Anywhere workers” keep in touch with their virtual teams by engaging in personal/non-business conversation with colleagues daily or weekly. Many self-employed and small business people are now exploring “co working”. “Co working” is another modern smarter way to work, which involves sharing office space on a flexible basis, as and when you need it. This makes it ideal for any workers who do not need a full time office base.
None of us can predict the future, but we surely all help to create it. Thinking clearly about how we manage key business resources communication is the life blood and successful team members ensure that they reach out across locations wherever they are. Dialogue trumps monologue in successful team meetings and successful teams collaborate freely wherever they are.
Corporate success is not achieved and sustained without first class communication and leadership and that starts at Board level. Making the right key decisions and then ensuring that strategy is communicated and managed consistently throughout the organisation is the top priority.
Success is never achieved and maintained without great leadership and teamwork. Everyone working in an organisation must feel involved and benefit from growth and productivity improvement, above all individuals must feel valued.
Individual performance matters hugely and the key to achieving a more productive workforce lies very firmly in the leadership and management styles that encourage development and growth. To achieve the productivity improvements needed, Culture, the product of attitudes and behaviors, still needs to change dramatically in many companies.
Work Wise UK hope that leaders from the private, public and third sector will respond to this urgent call to action to increase our productivity by freeing up resources to concentrate on getting our economy firmly on the road to growth. But as we know behavior change is predominantly driven by economics and convenience, cynics can prevail, resist change and leave us trailing in the wake of more progressive thinkers and fast developing economies.
I have always been convinced that creating a smarter flexible workforce across the UK and developing good management and leadership will improve our productivity. I would like to see the proportion of people working remotely and from home increase more sharply this year especially as this is our 10th year. One possible spur for this could be the extension of the right to request flexible working to all employees with 26 weeks service, which came in to effect in June 2014. Whilst employers are not bound to grant requests regardless of circumstances, this change can only help to generate more demand for flexible, remote and home-working.
This seems like the big opportunity for Employers to allow staff to try out new smarter ways of working for the first time, whilst also making a real contribution to UK business being more productive. We simply cannot afford to let this potential go unfulfilled.
Phil Flaxton - Chief Executive - Work Wise UK