The nation has been working a nine to five since the Victorian era. There's been talk of a flexible working revolution for many years, talk that became more insistent with the advent of the internet. But it's only just started to happen. It looks like people in all manner of industries are finally starting to challenge the old, traditional workplace structures, and plenty of employers are actually ringing the changes, dreaming up fresh ways to bring out the best in their people.
More home-workers and remote workers than ever
Home-working and remote working are a bigger deal than ever these days. Thousands of digital nomads are working on beaches around the world, millions of freelancers are doing their jobs from coffee shops and home offices. Entire businesses are thriving without premises, creating powerful remote teams who rarely if ever meet face to face. Flexible workspaces are allowing businesses to scale-up or scale back as they flex and change.
At the same time, attitudes are changing in line. Fewer employers are insisting on a culture of presenteeism, businesses are championing new working structures to help employees do their best work. It's clear that done right, flexible working can boost productivity levels because people find it easier to concentrate away from the hubbub of a traditional office, and genuinely appreciate being trusted to do a great job during the hours that suit their lifestyle.
The numbers prove the point
The numbers bear it out. One recent survey by Fresh Business Thinking (http://www.freshbusinessthinking.com/) reveals an impressive 35% of business managers and directors across the world plan to let their teams work remotely for 1-2 days a week over the coming year. And 11% say they're thinking about letting employees work remotely for the entire week. Add to that the fact that over 90% of professionals would choose a flexible working role over a traditional office based job and it's clear the bells of change are ringing.
By offering flexible working, SMEs can find people on whom they might otherwise miss out. The world's forward thinkers agree, feeling that a more flexible approach to the workplace structure is the way ahead, benefiting employees as well as improving business outcomes. So how can you harness business support services like ours to make your own flexible working dream come true?
Using business support services to drive flexible working
You need to align flexible working with the way your own business works. Like so much in life, one size rarely fits all. Your flexible workers have to be technology-enabled and have the right work personality types to work alone without physical supervision - natural team workers might find it tough. Can you trust your people to get their work done on time, to the right standard? Have you set in place appropriate communication channels?
You don't need to employ your own flexible workers, of course. At Sussex Business Bureau we are naturally flexible. We carry out all manner of remote work for our clients, something that frees them up to create flexible working lives of their own.
Once you've found someone trustworthy with the relevant skills to take work off your hands, more of your time is your own. You can set working hours to suit your own tastes – night owl, nine to fiver or early bird. You can work evenings and mornings, taking time for yourself in the afternoon. You can forget about hiring expensive premises, instead leaving us to do our thing from our own office and working from home yourself... or your nearest coffee shop, pub, even beach.
You can treat your employees to flexible working, too. Changing the rules for yourself means you also have to offer the same to the people you employ. In an ideal world the same rules should apply from the boss downwards.
It's well worth thinking about. Will a more flexible way of working support better business in your case? If you think it can, we'd love to talk about the ways in which we'll support you in your ambitions to work more flexibly and ultimately enjoy your working life more. Contact us to talk things through – we're always happy to explore fresh new options with business owners.