Tag Archives: working from home

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 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 

 

Could Flexible Working Help Improve Your Health?

My Whole Brain is Crying

Having a colleague feel under the weather can throw office morale into chaos.
Avoid these dangers with flexible working!

The advantages of a flexible working schedule for attaining a strong work/life balance are well publicised. Furthermore, flexibility in the working day may have a positive effect on worker’s productivity and overall morale. But could flexible working have benefits for our health? Here are some of the ways in which flexible working may help to improve your health, and overall wellbeing.

Obesity/ High Blood Pressure:

In the western world we are far too sedentary, in that we spend a disproportionate amount of time resting and sitting down, rather than being active. Modern life means that exercise is largely removed from our daily routine, and a 9 to 5 office job could leave you feeling too exhausted to even contemplate an invigorating post-work gym session. This has a direct knock-on effect for our health, leading to obesity and high blood pressure.

How Flexible Working Could Help:

Use flexible working to instil a healthier routine, incorporating exercise. A flexible schedule may be adopted to make time for a gym. Alternatively, flexible working would allow for frequent breaks within the working day, to make time for short walks. Flexibility is key to consciously making time to get active on a regular basis

Top Tip: Invest in one of these amazing treadmill desks. This will force you to stay active while getting on top of your tasks for the week!

RSI/ Back Pain/ Muscular Pain

RSI is a serious problem among those who spend all day slouched in front of a computer. Working in a communal office means that we can’t control the height of our desk and monitor in relation to our eye-level, which can lead to straining and muscle pain. Furthermore, office chairs can often be uncomfortable, not ideal for comfort during long periods of time.

How Flexible Working Could Help:

Remote working or working from home will allow you to have total control over your work environment.  Use the opportunity to invest in an ergonomic home office, including a good-quality high-backed chair and a monitor positioned at an appropriate height for your eyeline (for more information, see this guide). Lighting is also hugely important in adapting your workspace to your own personal requirements.

Stress/Depression

The pressures of a crushing work schedule frequently lead to depression and stress at work.  On a large scale, Depression and stress-related absence is a national problem, costing the UK millions each year.

How Flexible Working Could Help:

Make you feel more motivated and productive. This, in turn, may cause you to feel more valued at work, boosting self-esteem and career satisfaction. Flexible hours could enable you to juggle work and life commitments more effectively, decreasing stress and feelings of overwhelm. If there is the risk that working from home could exacerbate feelings of isolation, you could consider joining a collective which enables flexible working professionals to work together in agile office environments.

Stomach Bugs/Colds:

Viral illness is one of the hazards of working in an office. Coughs and colds spread rapidly amongst colleagues, reluctant to take time off work to fully recover from their ailments.

How Flexible Working Could Help:

Working from home is a good way of countering presenteeism in the workplace, as it allows employees to stay at home until they are fully recovered from viral illnesses, minimising the risk of spreading the germs. Also, the rise in BYOD (bring your own device) may help to reduce the risk of catching stomach bugs from germs on communal phones and computer keyboards.