Flexible working: I've got no strings to hold me down

by Rebecca Bromwich: Mobility Specialist, Telefónica UK

About a month ago, a colleague of mine wrote a blog encouraging organisations to go paperless. This was all about embracing digital tools and technology to be more productive – whilst also saving a few trees in the process. But what about taking this further? What about going wireless too?

No, I’m not talking about a London music festival or buying an old fashioned radio. I’m talking about breaking away from the desktop computer and fixed line phones. I’m talking about adopting a mobile working culture, by freeing your employees from the confines of the office every day of the week. Equip them with mobile devices and laptops, tools they can use wherever and whenever to be more productive, to help them achieve more in their working week.

I realise this might sound quite preachy, but it’s something I really believe in. At O2, we have been working in a flexible, wireless way for quite some time now and I can honestly say it’s transformed the way I think about work.  Although it’s still necessary for me to be out and about (and yes, occasionally I still get stuck in miles of endless traffic or spend hours on a train), I can do it when it makes sense for the customers or colleagues I’m working with, not every day of the week. And with connectivity solutions like 4G and O2 Wifi, I know I can be productive on the go.

Plus, when I don’t have to travel, working from home is an absolute dream. I am able to get straight to work without any distraction. On a more personal level, I can manage a work-life balance effectively whatever life throws at me. As a result, I don’t resent work and genuinely feel I am more engaged and willing to go that extra mile when I am working.

Another thing to consider is that many people don’t just want a wireless working environment, they are actively seeking it. An estimated 14.1 million people in Britain want flexibility in their working hours or location which equates to almost half the working population.[1] Organisations need to get creative to deliver an appealing flexible working culture that attracts the best talent. One example I found particularly impressive was Barclays’ ‘Staying in Touch’ app, which keeps line managers and employees on maternity leave in touch, while also providing access to relevant resources and information.[2]

In my O2 bubble I sometimes forget that there are companies who still work in a fixed 9-5 office-based style, however I’m pleased to see many of them proactively discussing flexible working. A company I’m working with even commented it would be more cost effective to roll out smartphones to employees rather than upgrade their fixed line estate, even in their call centre. And so, we’re working with them on a solution that will enable all users to be mobile but with a single-number reach. So if you have been thinking about adopting a flexible working culture, what’s stopping you? Your business should be able to reap the benefits of wireless working too.

Let me know what your organisation thinks about flexible working – connect with me on LinkedIn.

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/business/economics-blog/2015/jun/09/british-workers-flexible-working-only-6-percent-job-ads-offer

[2] http://bit.ly/1NjwxKp