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We need flexible working to maintain semblance of work-life balance

As the workforce evolves into a more immediate, responsive and collaborative culture, employees are trying to stay connected with colleagues and customers. With the increased desire for constant connectivity though, comes the need for flexible working.
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Given that Britons left 163m unused annual leave days on the table in 2016, workers could use some help creating a flexible working environment to bring equilibrium into their lives.

Putting the much-needed, well-deserved break aside momentarily, there are also very tangible reasons flexible working is becoming a must-have with today’s workforce.

Take commuting for example. As several train stations close for essential works this summer, many will physically not be able to get to work, or their commute times will be doubled or tripled.

Being able to work remotely once, twice or several times a week will not only ensure employees report to work, it will save employees’ hours of lost productivity commuting. In fact, the number of telecommuting remote workers has increased by 115 per cent in the last decade, and employers are discovering the advantages of a remote, and oftentimes dispersed, workforce.

First, there are the obvious benefits such as a huge reduction in the physical property required, especially when only a handful of vital staffers need to be on site. A larger portion of remote employees reduces the cost of physical desks, electricity, heating and air conditioning, plus all the other minor necessities that keep an office operating.

But more than this, there are clear financial benefits that come with employees’ choosing to work from home.

A recent study estimated that flexible working could generate workstation savings of £1.1bn for the UK economy. Cutting costs could be a major enticement for companies considering an investment in flexible working.

There are broader, non-monetary benefits as well. When companies have the freedom to hire outside of the corporate HQ hub, the talent pool grows and – as we all know – better and smarter workers mean more efficiency and higher profits.

Furthermore, with employees spread out across the country or even the globe, businesses are able to operate in more time zones, meaning there really are more hours in the day.

Also, allowing employees to work from home can reduce absenteeism, tardiness and their associated costs. In fact, a majority of professionals say they would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options. If employees are happier, turnover rates will be lower and new-hire training costs will decrease.

A forecast of employment trends by the World Economic Forum called flexible work, including the opportunity to work from home and be a part of virtual teams, “one of the biggest drivers of transformation” in the modern workplace. So, companies that aren’t willing to invest in technologies like video conferencing, allowing employees to work efficiently from home, are leaving money on the table.

By offering employees the flexibility of working remotely, you can easily beat the competition by having a more motivated staff, great employer-employee relationships and saving a small fortune in overhead costs.

Michael Helmbrecht is chief product and operations officer at Lifesize

HR is one of the hot topics discussed at the FD Surgery Manchester in November. Find out more here.

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