Homeworking works, no matter what the weather decides to do.

Nicola Mortimer
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On: 15 Mar 2018
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Last week we dived straight into the technologies that enable homeworking, so this week we take a step back and look at the cultural change an organisation needs to make homeworking work, the growing necessity to embrace it and the benefits it brings.

As featured in the Sunday Business Post on 11th March 2018.

In the last few years, a dramatic shift has taken place in Irish businesses, with mobile working now very much a reality.

Irish organisations have changed the way they communicate, as well as their tools and technology, to create a flexible and fluid workplace. Access to company information was once defined by hardware, location and fixed networks. This is now possible from almost anywhere.

In recent weeks, Ireland came to standstill with Storm Emma closing businesses and bringing public transportation to a halt. It was reported that businesses in Dublin’s city centre lost between €20 million and €25 million. While hazardous weather will continue to have an impact on business operations, organisations can minimise the impact by empowering their staff to work remotely – turning a snow day into business as usual.

Technological developments have changed our working world beyond recognition, boosting employee productivity. Last year, Three carried out a survey of business owners, with six out of 10 stating that their smartphone is the single most important technology that allows them to do their job and 77% feel that they can either totally or somewhat stay on top of their work using just their smartphone.

With the growing availability of high speed internet, fibre and 4G, employees do not need to be in the office to work efficiently. Hazardous weather can make homeworking essential, but for working parents, juggling careers with the demands of family life, to millennials with expectations of flexible hours and the dream work/life balance, companies cannot ignore the ongoing necessity of mobility solutions.

The key requirements for businesses are growing revenue and productivity and decreasing costs; essentially getting more for less. Flexible working, at home or on the go, allows employees to live healthier and happier lifestyles, blurring the lines between work life and social life and empowering staff to work in a way that’s most productive for them.

For working parents, an after-school swimming lesson, birthday party or dental appointment is as likely to make up their daily schedule as a sales meeting. Forward-thinking employers are using mobility solutions to accommodate this without compromising employee productivity. The parent who has to wait in the car during a music lesson or football practice can carry on working. Once they have their smartphone or tablet, there’s no difficulty and no guilt.

Introducing mobile working for employees not only requires IT solutions, but also trust in the workforce and an overall organisational culture change.

The obvious barriers to mobile working have disappeared for most companies; the cost of laptops and mobile devices has decreased significantly in recent years, high-speed broadband is more widely available both indoors and outdoors facilitating working on the move.

It’s crucial to provide people with all the correct tools for flexible working. Businesses must ensure that their technology enables staff to deliver a consistently positive service to their customers while working remotely. There should be no difference to the quality of work, whether employees are at home, in the office or on the move.

Organisations should also allow staff some flexibility over the devices they use. A fully open BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy may be appropriate or organisations may opt for a CYOD (Choose Your Own Device) route in order to retain a balance of organisational control alongside employee freedom.

After Storm Ophelia and now Storm Emma, many Irish businesses have been caught short in terms of how to handle “snow days”. Many organisations should now forward plan, create and communicate contingency work plans. An abundance of technological solutions are available to facilitate homeworking, so employees can continue to work without compromising their safety travelling to and from the workplace.

Mobility is now just as important for recruiting and retaining the best employees, and has proven productivity benefits. While this generation of working parents is grateful to employers for the flexibility that mobile solutions offer, the next generation of workers will demand it as a right. Companies that have been resistant to mobile working will need to re-think their ways of working to future-proof their ability to attract new talent. Even now, employees have structured their lives around the capabilities of mobility with their employer. Those workers will think very hard about moving to a company that doesn’t offer the same.

Call our Business Advice team now on 1800 200 017 for further information or