Led by Belfast, Northern Ireland is fast embracing the flexible working phenomenon, providing new and exciting opportunities for in-house staff and entrepreneurs who want to carry out their work in a way that suits them.
Unthinkable for many of us only a few years ago, ‘remote’ working, co-working, business hubs and hot-desking are commonplace – it’s hard to imagine that less than a couple of decades ago, if you left your workplace or were travelling on business, you often weren’t contactable until you got back. Of course, it was also a time when your holidays really were yourholidays …
But in this new age, technology really has revolutionised not only the way we work but what we can do, powering new opportunities and ways to win more and retain more customers. We’re also significantly much more productive than we have ever been and that means better bottom lines and growth for all.
Thanks to mobile phones, Wi-Fi, laptops and other devices, the reasons to base yourself in one spot regularly are dwindling away.
For most forward-thinking companies and enabled by technology, working remotely now forms a core part of their organisations’ flexible working initiatives. A recent study by one major internet provider found that homeworking has grown by around a quarter in the last five years, with 8.2 million employees in Britain now working from home for at least one day a week, and relying on fast broadband.
Studies also show that most of those work elsewhere do feel more productive, avoiding interruptions, and are more motivated to work harder and more efficiently to protect the many benefits this new way brings – more independence, more control, less stress, pollution, petrol and train fares and much greater opportunities to manage family commitments.
Even working from home a few days month has shown many businesses productivity and revenue improvements that have really made a difference. In fact, a recent survey by Investors in People found that almost a third of workers would prefer a more flexible approach to work, such as remote working, over a three percent pay rise.
Of course, all this doesn’t have to mean that those employees are out of sight, or, out of mind. Cloud computing, Video calls, WhatsApp working groups, emails and calls can support a daily workload which all managers and employees can share in, keeping everyone engaged and at the top of their game with good communication.
The benefits for employers are large. In this current talent-driven economy, by allowing employees to work remotely, you can hire the best and retain the best while not limiting yourself by geographical restrictions. Even occasional remote working can significantly limit absences, boost productivity and save money overall because they are better equipped to avoid distractions.
So, from a few hours a day, a day a week or a few days a month or more, it’s worth a discussion.
The options are limitless – and so is the technology available, which is packaged and ready to go.
With the cloud, it is no longer about location. It’s is about whether you have access to a reliable internet connection. The technology built around this means that everything is possible.