Tag Archives: agile working

Protecting Business Productivity with Agile Working

Avoid Threats Posed by Further Strikes with Flexible Working

After recent news of the threat of London tube strikes, there are fears that further rows could erupt, with the potential to cause maximum disruption and widespread chaos.

A strike planned for 14th October by London Underground workers in a dispute over austerity led cuts was abandoned after last-ditch talks. The breakthrough was made after ‘substantial progress’ was made by  the Rail, Maritime and Transport union in the ongoing issue of cuts and Tube ticket office closures

But does this mark the end of the dispute? According to some, it is unlikely that this is the end of the matter. Despite negotiations, the threat of disruptive industrial action still looms large.

The possibility of strike action strengthens the case for flexible working. With new technology, employees are more and more able to work remotely, including from their own homes. This, coupled with new statistics on the efficacy of flexible working further questions the relevancy of the traditional office in a digital age.

These recent events (and June’s changes to flexible working) show that it is high time for businesses to reassess, and view flexible working as a means of protecting their business from the chaos that would result from transport strikes, while simultaneously building an infrastructure which promotes growth.

Strikes aside, it was estimated by the CEBR that drivers in London spent more than 250 hours idling in traffic in 2013 and this was likely to increase to 299 hours by 2030, equivalent to 40 working days a year, suggesting that increased agile working would help to improve the productivity of workers affected by transport difficulties.

Homeworking/remote working refers to work done at home, or outwith the primary office environment. However, remote working may also refer to situations where only part of an employee’s workload is completed outside of the office. Therefore, it is reasonable to suggest that a degree of remote working could be introduced into the majority of employees’ schedules.

For businesses wishing to check up on the productivity of their workers, there are monitoring systems in place and this can reassure employers. There is also much to be said about the cost-effective nature of remote working. In a recent study by Deloitte it was found that 30 to 40 percent of physical working environment are vacant at any given moment on an average business day. Decrease reliance on offices and cut overhead costs unnecessary costs. There is even evidence that allow workers greater flexibility will boost productivity. Finally, increased flexible working could also be beneficial for the environment, in that cutting commuter traffic in busy cities would dramatically reduce carbon emissions.

While no-one can say for sure whether or not the threat of London Tube Strikes has subsided, now certainly seems like a good time for employees to take into account the diverse benefits that remote working can bring.

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Flexible Working for 50+ Individuals: 4 Things You Should Know

Last week, the Flexiworkforce team were lucky enough to attend the 50+ Show. We were unique in that while most of the other exhibitors were showcasing holidays and leisure and household products, we were encouraging attendees to consider supplementing their retirement income with flexible working.

Many of the attendees were confident in their skills and abilities, yet acknowledged that there is a distinct lack of support for older workers who are interested in opting for flexible working, either pre- or post- retirement.

Others were interested in the idea but feared that they would be rejected outright on the grounds of their age.

Overall, we were very impressed by the enthusiasm and energy of the people we spoke to, including their willingness to consider new, modern ways of working. Here are the top 4 things we learned.

The over 50s are a key driving force behind the rise of flexible working in the UK

While older workers may not always feel ahead of the next tech trend in the office, they are in fact championing a new working culture in the UK through working flexibly. ‘Flexible working’ can refer to any working pattern outwith the typical Monday to Friday 9 till 5 and can include part-time, shift work, working from home and job sharing.

On average, workers in their 60s reject the typical 35 hours for a much more manageable 24, offering both a secure income and time to socialise outside of work.

The over 50s want and  need flexible work, but have been largely cut off from it. Until now.

While flexible working can be seen as the solution for older workers wishing to stagger their retirement with further employment, finding quality job vacancies that can offer flexible hours can be difficult.  CEO and founder Tracey Eker sought to rectify this problem by launching Flexiworkforce.com as the only UK-wide job site dedicated to flexible jobs.

Flexible working can be an ideal solution for older workers who working but would like the chance to also enjoy their life a bit more. There are many long-term unemployed workers who have been out of the workforce because of a lack of adequate flexible working but employers are actually desperate for their skills. Through Flexiworkforce these two groups can reach each other!

Many feel a lack of support in coming back to the workforce.

The over 50s are an invaluable talent pool which remains sorely underutilised by western society. The societal problem of ageism means that older workers often have a hard time getting into jobs that they are deemed ‘overqualified’ for, others feel forced out of a job before they’re ready. While ageism remains a serious issue, there is very little data available to quantify the issue.

However, many enlightened employers are keen to hire individuals over the age of 50, such as the banking group Santander, who are keen that their staff reflect the diverse age-mix of their customers.

 Flexible working- a good balance:

In recent years there has been something of a mindshift in the way we view retirement. Many choose to reject a traditional retirement in favour of flexible employment, some choosing to never fully retire. As average life-expectancy continues to increase worldwide, the multi-generational workforce will become increasingly diverse, with older workers being highly sought after for their skills and experience.

Flexibility should be the goal for over fifties aiming to retain their independence, or perhaps even strike out on a new career path, without having to endure the taxing demands of a full-time career or conventional working hours.

50 +

Whatever Tomorrow’s Outcome, Flexibility is the Future!

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It’s the eve of the referendum of Scottish independence, and in the run up to the event, Flexiworkforce CEO and founder Tracey Eker has been meeting with politicians from both sides of the  the campaign in order to discuss the ways in which flexible working will be of benefit to Scotland both within the UK or as an independent state.

First the Flexiworkforce team met John Mason, a Scottish Nationalist and member of the Scottish Parliament who sits on the Committee for Equal Opportunities. Secondly, we met with Liberal Democrat MP for East Dunbartonshire Jo Swinson, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Employment Relations.

“It was great to meet with representatives from both factions” Tracey Eker stated, “It enabled us to gain a balanced view of how flexible working would be advantageous to Scotland’s future, whether it may be within the Union, or as an independent country.”

From a political perspective, the benefits of flexible working are numerous, and include:

  • Flexible working may help to alleviate the ongoing skills shortage, in that in-demand professionals who have previously left the workforce may be brought back in on a part-time, flexible basis
  • Flexible working will improve diversity and equal opportunities within organisations ranging from SMEs to large corporates companies, by improving inclusion of groups such as women, the over 50s and those with disabilities or mental health issues.
  • The result of this will ultimately be a decrease in overall unemployment.
  • Increased flexible working may also help to decrease working poverty, in that increased transparency in job ads will enable individuals to access work appropriate to their skills level, therefore, freeing up minimum wage roles for other job seekers.
  • Increased flexible working may decrease unemployment unemployment ‘portfolio’ workers who work several roles simultaneously. This form of working is especially prevalent in the ‘Gen Y‘ demographic, in which unemployment is high.

Therefore, whatever the result of the Referendum, we hope that the trend towards flexible working continues, whether Scotland votes for independence, or  continues to be part of the Union, in order to bridge inequality, solve the skills shortage and make our society fairer.

Vote for Flexible working!

How the UK Skills Shortage Will Boost Flexible Working

War on Talent Continues as Top Talent Demand Flexible Working

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August 2014 saw a record drop in the number of candidates applying for permanent and full-time jobs, a recent report commissioned by the Bank of Scotland has revealed

The Bank of Scotland chief economist Donald MacRae consolidates the report’s findings: ‘There was a record drop in people available for jobs and growing evidence of strong growth in pay, confirming the tightening of the jobs market’. However, this drop has been countered by a marked increase in individuals applying for short-term and part-time roles, confirming that the Scottish jobs market continues to go “from strength to strength”.

The change may be interpreted as a result of the skills shortage currently affecting the UK. A dearth of skilled candidates means that certain sectors continue to struggle to fill full-time positions, including the medical and care sectors, IT and computing and the engineering sector.

“A huge number of skilled candidates have been excluded from the job market because of a lack of part-time roles and flexible working positions. The ongoing skills shortage means that these professionals are highly sought-after, and are in a strong position to dictate their salaries and working conditions, including work schedules’. Flexiworkforce CEO Tracey Eker confirms.

Nevertheless, the growth in flexible, part-time and short contract positions may also be seen as a boon for employers seeking to broaden their talent pool by increasing their access talented candidates.

By hiring candidates on a flexible basis, companies can effectively get the skills that their business needs, for the money they can afford, something especially vital for emerging SMEs, many of whom rely on contractual workers. In particular, engineering and construction saw a marked increase in temporary job openings. This suggests that this rise modern flexible working has come about as a mutually beneficial option, resulting from the convergence in the needs of employees and businesses.

The skills shortage shows no sign of stopping, meaning that level of bargaining power that workers have to negotiate their working conditions is only set to increase. As the war for talent rages on, it is likely that flexibility will be a major factor in determine which companies ultimately survive, thrive and fail.

‘The last bastion of differentiation in the fight for mind share and market share for a business is its people. Yet hiring, retaining and motivating the best talent is no easy task in an age where loyalty to one job for life, or even five years, is starting to sound prehistoric’. Eker states.

‘Developing a flexible company culture that will help attract, retain and motivate the best employees to achieve amazing results is essential’.

Click here for more information on how you can hire the best candidates for your business.

Flexible Working Thought Leaders

In a new series featuring leaders in the world of flexible working, we speak to Work From Home Wisdom blogger Judy Heminsley.

judy

Judy is the founder of Work from Home Wisdom, a blog that provides advice and inspiration for home workers, and author of Work from Home (How To Books).She was a pioneer of Jelly coworking events in the Uk, and her How to Start Your Own Jelly guide is available on the blog.

How did you start working from home and what inspired you to begin writing about the subject

I didn’t plan to work from home at all! I just fell into it when I helped to set up a cleaning business in the 80s. As a new business we wanted to keep costs down, and running it from a spare bedroom was the obvious choice. I ran the business for 12 years, employing over 20 part-time staff, and never considered moving out of home into separate premises.

Having sold the business and moved to Cornwall I stumbled on the MA Professional Writing course at Falmouth University. No, there was no big plan to any of this! As a non-fiction writer I had to come up with a book idea for my thesis, research the market, write sample chapters and submit it as a commercial book proposal. It was when I was thinking about this that I realised that almost everything I’d done for the past 20 years had been based at home. I discovered there were no current books about working from home, and so there was my idea.

The great thing about the course was that the thesis not only got me my MA but later led to a book contract with How To Books. I set up the blog as a way to keep the subject fresh, not knowing that such a lot was about to happen – coworking spaces, Jelly, mobile and flexible working etc – and that the blog would grow along with it.

Do you think that employers attitudes to remote/agile ways of working are changing?

Yes and no. Marissa Mayer’s decision to take staff back into the office at Yahoo was disappointing, but I feel there was a lot more behind it than was made public. The vast majority of my readers are freelancers or home business owners, and some are employed by corporates who appreciate the benefits of home and flexible working. So it’s always a shock to hear about employers who don’t want to let staff out of their sight, as the advantages seem so obvious. But the 9-5 ethic is so deeply ingrained in our psyche.

What is your opinion of the UK government’s recent changes to flexible working legislation? Do you see the change as a step in the right direction or are you of the view that more needs to be done to improve access to flexible working?

As a former employer I’m very aware of the effects of employment legislation on business, particularly small businesses, so I’m maybe less militant about this than you might expect! It’s a step in the right direction. It’s much easier for the self-employed as they can change working practices instantly, as long as they still get the work done.

What do you think the future holds for flexible and remote working? Do you think there will be a greater uptake of remote working in the future?

As technology enables more people to do more, wherever they are, inevitably it will become more widespread. I also see the ageing population as a major driver, as more people need to combine work with caring for elderly relatives for an extended period of time. This is already affecting me and all my friends, and it will become a massive factor in many more people’s lives. One home worker I know looks after three elderly relatives, all living in different places across the UK.

 In your opinion, what is the best thing about working from home?

For me, it’s having the freedom to mix work and personal commitments in any way I choose. I’ve always enjoyed taking time off when I wanted, and working early or late because I was in the mood. Now that I’m a distance carer for both my parents, working from home enables me to handle their household affairs during office hours, and contact banks, utility companies and so on if necessary. My sister, who works full-time, simply can’t do this.

Follow Judy via TwitterPinterest and Google +.

For more tips on working remotely click here

Find UK-wide remote flexible working/home working opportunities on  flexiworkforce.com