Paying a high price for inflexible working, by Claire Darley, Head of Small and Medium Business Sales, O2

Working at O2, we are so deeply entrenched in the world of mobile that there is a tendency to believe the rest of the UK small businesses are as cognisant as we are with the benefits that mobile and wireless technology can bring, particularly in the area of flexible working.  Research we are launching today highlights a surprising reluctance among small businesses throughout the UK to adopt flexible working practices.  Despite the benefits, flexible working delivers in terms of creating innovation, productivity and fulfilling business objectives, we found that too few small businesses are using simple and cost effective technologies needed to make such practices a reality.  

For example, we found that one in four (25%) small and medium sized business use no technology at all to facilitate flexible working and only one in five (22%) small businesses makes use of dongles to work remotely. And surprisingly, only 22% have considered cloud services so people could work outside the office. 

Another key finding was that small businesses see flexible working primarily as an employee benefit and staff retention tool with small business citing that their flexible working policy consists primarily of flexible hours (98%) and part time working (73%). Yet flexible working isn’t just about flexible hours. By allowing employees to be smarter about the way that they work and giving them the tools they need, we believe that many small businesses can actually deliver on some of the key business objectives they are setting themselves. Our research finds that many of the services and technologies that small businesses need to work productively and on the move are simple and cost effective.  They far outweigh the benefits of the investment and in fact many small businesses already have the technology in place, they just don’t use it.  

In response to the findings, O2 is calling on a greater number of small and medium businesses to review their flexible working arrangements to get the most from their employees. The new approach which connects a range of products and services under the Joined Up People strategy – helps all types and sizes of businesses to increase productivity, work collaboratively, reduce costs and maximise competitiveness and responsiveness through flexible working.  

Joined Up People, a new approach from O2 helps businesses embrace flexible working with a range of products and services that enables them to connect better and more easily with the things that matter most.  It is a consultancy based approach which tailors advice and recommendations based on businesses’ specific needs. Flexible working can mean anything from using conference call on your mobile, getting emails on your phone, accessing the WiFi network via your laptop, setting up a home office and everything in between.  In times when small businesses are fighting to ensure they attract new customers and grow their business in difficult economic times, simple changes and uses of mobile technologies to encourage flexible working, could be the difference between success and failure.

For more infomation on Joined Up People, visit - http://www.o2.co.uk/enterprise/our-solutions/joined-up-people