Flexible working one year on - it's not what you do (it's the way that you do it)

One of the things that the flexible working day has shown us is that flexible working is about doing what you normally do, but from anywhere. I’ve been a flexible worker for a while and I can do the same piece of work from my home office, an O2 office, the local coffee shop or the motorway services. It’s all about being productive regardless of the environment.

Over the last year all our teams have really embraced that – even those that were traditionally office-based. There’s been an assumption that flexible working is only for sales or marketing bods, but we’ve totally disproved that. Our development teams, those in operations, in fact people across all our company now work away from the office at least one day a week.

Obviously, collaborative technology like Instant Messaging, smart boards, live meeting functionality, plus smart devices and near universal wifi coverage, play a big role. But, I’d say the biggest thing that any company looking at flexible working needs to consider is a behavioural change.

Because flexible working is more than just doing the same thing from a different place.

It’s all about output, not where you are. I know what constitutes me doing my job, and it’s up to me to make sure it’s done wherever I am.

After our flexible working day, we undertook some research to see what our people felt about their level of effectiveness, and found the majority are as productive or more productive. Not being stuck in a traffic jam, or waiting for a late train, undoubtedly has a lot to do with that. But we’ve been doing it for a year now and that productivity has not fallen away, which shows that combining a behavioural change and technology pays off.

And we’re seeing that flexible working has a direct impact on attracting the right person for the right job. In the past you either had to recruit in a 30-mile radius of your office, hope the successful candidate would relocate, or invest funds in helping them move. But by working flexibly we’re able to look across the UK for staff. In fact that’s exactly what happened with me. I live one and a half hours from the O2 head office but that’s had no impact on my output. I’m ready to work at the beginning of the day and I haven’t exhausted myself fighting through the traffic. We can now employ someone in Glasgow,  on a par with someone from Slough – which increases our talent pool tenfold.

Join the debate and have your say. On Friday 8 February, between midday and 1pm I’ll be part of an industry expert tweet chat panel. Join us to ask questions and discuss the topic of flexible working. Just follow us on Twitter @O2BusinessUK, and contribute on the day at #O2flexitweet.

To find out more about flexible working and the benefits it could bring to your business, call Matt Worth on 01235 433507 or visit our website.