Flexible Working Archives | Access4

Our Values – Flexible Working

How do we help flexible working?

Hours, work patterns or locations are common elements of discussion when employees and employers negotiate flexibility. Depending on the industry, role or role requirements, there will often be a need to consider at least one aspect where flexible working arrangements are required.

The term ‘work-life balance’ has been a very trendy topic in the last few years, but digital ‘motivational addicts’ have challenged it by saying it’s not possible to achieve since working hours make the majority of people’s day and week. Would you agree? Does it mean the work/life balance cannot be achieved?
Flexible Working Day recently found the following ;

  • 48% of companies do not have flexible work policies
  • 75% of part-time roles are held by women
  • 79% new dads and 85% woman want to work flexibly
  • 27% of men and 49% of woman experience discrimination when returning from parental leave
  • 45% of millennials or Gen Y choose flexibility over pay.

So, what now?

It’s about building a secure, comfortable and flexible working environment. Blogs, articles, TED talks and training research studies sessions are showing that even the ‘big bucks’ can’t poach a good employee if he or she is happy with their current position.

There is another ongoing debate about the time spent at work and employee satisfaction. Yes, you can work overtime, and your family might miss you, but there is a difference between a satisfied employee who arrives home a bit later but content, and one who comes home at 5.00 depressed, stressed and worried.

Unified Communications – you don’t have to be present, just ‘dial-in’.

It’s a simple rule, and we apply it daily, more precisely every morning at 8.30 and 8.46. If we can’t attend a specific meeting, we just dial-in. If that’s not possible (on rare occasions), we pass our daily agendas or ‘roadblocks’ to the person in charge. If you are late and you don’t dial in on time, ‘the punishment’ is $5, which goes towards our ‘savings’ for Friday drinks.

Need to discuss it but can’t arrange the meeting and it’s not ‘e-mail material’?

A typical situation. We use our Communicator to form quick group chats if we need to discuss something. Again, we don’t have to be in the same physical location. You might think that group chat is a common thing these days, but companies rarely use it as they don’t find messaging apps ‘professional’ or ‘business facing’. Unified Communications gives it a ‘corporate feel’ while keeping the style of communication relaxed and flexible.

Your mobile phone and your computer are synced, what about your desk phone?

Unified Communications finally allows your desk phone to join the ‘cool group’. So, go ahead and pull that call to your computer or the other way around.

Video conferencing or training

Every 14 days, we invite our partners to join us for a 30-40-minute training session of the latest SASBOSS features or ‘how-to’s’. On a daily basis, we use our screen sharing capability to help train them and navigate around different features.

Flexism and the Flexible Working Day

The International calendar of important days communicates identified causes/days across the globe, and flexible working joined the calendar on 6th of June. #FWDay, #FlexWorkFullLife, #GenderFlexGap and #TackleFlexism are some of the hashtags used for promoting this cause. The term ‘flexism’ is used for those who still have a lack of trust when it comes to implementing this change in our working environments.

In our Cloud ISDN whitepaper, we mentioned how flexibility has been a part of the Fair Work Act for a long time now. Flexible Working Day points out that technology, families and work organisation has changed, but our 9 – 5, Monday – Friday lifestyle has stayed the same. So clearly, we still have a long way to go.

Juggle Strategies, our work-flexibility partners, defined four critical success factors for implementing flexible working – Trust, Mindset, Communication and Outcome performance management.

Trust and Mindset can be most challenging; the challenge is not only about convincing managers that work flexibility is good for the organisation (not just the employees), but that a positive mindset will be driven through that trust. And we all know how mindset can fuel or block change.

We are happy to say that at Access4 we have that trust and mindset and that we actively work to build on this foundation. We also advocate flexible working among our partners, and we hope that our product will be one of the primary tools for business environments to make this change more manageable.

The business case for the flexible working practice

Melbourne, Australia, 8 March 2018 – As advocates of flexible working, we are always on a hunt for good case studies, so we want to share this one in particular because of its extraordinary figures! JuggleStrategies published this whitepaper almost 17 months ago, but we think results presented would be just as relevant today.

No matter which industry we got in touch with, we can confirm the same pattern; employees are looking for work-life balance, even if they are young and only starting their careers. Trends towards the minimalism in all aspects of life are pushing people to seek productive surroundings (not only in their work-related environments). All that, of course, corresponds with changes and benefits Unified Communications generate for forward-looking businesses.

  • Proven increase in employee engagement
  • Significant reduction in costs
  • Greater gender diversity & inclusion
  • Easier to attract top talent
  • Stress reduced and time regained
  • More efficient communication
  • Increased innovation

Recruiters or companies employing directly, advertise this benefit if they can, with listing various ‘perks’ they offer. But, it seems that workplace flexibility wins over free lunches or tickets to events.

We will provide the direct download link, but here are the most exciting findings (if you’re already not motivated enough by the reminder on the legislation introduced in ‘The Fair Work Act 2009’, so you might have already “got this” or you have a strategy how to “get there”).

Benefits of flexible working for businesses

1. Proven increase in employee engagement;
In Australia, Mirvac was able to increase engagement levels by 20%, simply by implementing a flexible working program for all employees.

2. Significant reduction in costs;
– Microsoft saw sick leave reduce by 40%,
– The American Management Association reported a 63% reduction in unscheduled absences, across some organisations implementing a range of flexible practices.

3. Greater gender diversity & inclusion;
-Bain18 reports that in flexible organisations, there is a 6% increase in women’s confidence to become a senior leader, and a 10% increase in aspiration to become a senior leader.

4. Easier to attract top talent;
– Businesses that don’t adapt will soon be left with the bottom of the talent pool and will suffer the consequences.

5. Stress reduced and time regained; flexibility decreases travel time, giving people more time to work and more control over their lives.

6. More efficient communication;
– Greater familiarity with video conferencing technologies also reduces the need for interstate and overseas travel, and global expansion is eased, as people can more comfortably build relationships and collaborate over long distances.

7. Increased innovation;
When women leave the workforce to have children, and can’t return because of a lack of flexibility, these ‘entrepreneurial mums’ are establishing and building their successful businesses instead.

Most common fears

1. ‘It’ll cost too much to implement’.
‘Roy Morgan was recently fined $72,000 for making a worker redundant when she returned from maternity leave and asked for flexible working arrangements’.

2. ‘Employees will take advantage and productivity will drop’.
The opposite – Flexibility grows Engagement which grows Performance.

3. ‘How can I manage staff when they’re not in front of me’?
For example, if management leans towards McGregor’s Theory X way of thinking, where it’s assumed that people are naturally lazy, and will avoid responsibility whenever possible, then more training and support will be in order. However, if McGregor’s Theory Y is more dominant, where it’s assumed that employees are happy to work, self-motivated and goal driven, then coaching may be all that’s needed.

‘When implemented correctly flexibility has the potential to increase productivity, engagement, retention, level of employee discretionary effort, diversity and the ability to decrease absenteeism, sick leave, cost (real estate, IT Infrastructure and energy) and carbon footprint’.

Source: http://www.jugglestrategies.com.au/business-case-for-flex/

Flexible Workplace and Unified Communications

When we talk about IT and Unified Communications, often we get very hyped up about the technology and its features. Marketers and salespeople should always try to link features to situations that will add value to a business. As a Cloud Unified Communications provider, we are big on using our own technology internally to understand its true value and to be able to show its value to partners. We also internally promote a flexible workplace where results are the measure of our team, not where they are – something that UCaaS allows us to do.

As a parent of a now 1.2-year-old often the real value of Unified Communications becomes less about a value proposition and is a real asset when its flexibility allows me to manage my needs at work, and ideals of being the best parent possible. On a Monday afternoon at 1:35 pm, had just started a conference call with two external people to Access4 using the BroadSoft MyRoom collaboration functionality. I had dialled in from my desk phone when my wife called on the mobile. My wife will generally only call during business hours in an emergency. This has more to do with her demands at work than my views of self-importance. She had called to advise that her mother who was minding our daughter for the day had locked herself out of the house and effectively was wandering the streets with a sleeping 1.2-year-old in the pram. My wife’s demands at work meant she couldn’t leave work at that point.

Being easily mobile is one of the true tests of Unified Communications and with the click of a button, I was seamlessly able to move the call from my desk phone to my mobile whilst still having control over the conference call. I was able to then get into the car without disrupting my call, without having to dial people back, without having to put people on hold. Our BroadSoft solution seamlessly moved the call to my mobile as a data call over the mobile carriers 4G, then was able to negotiate the handover to my car’s Bluetooth system.

I was able to drive home quickly, open the house or more accurately point and click the garage door remote and drive back to work all without having to cancel a business call or disrupting the meeting. The technology had truly enabled my competing needs for those 30 minutes. This is what cloud unified communications should be able to do. It took the technology and turned it into a real asset that allowed my work to be something I was doing, not a location I was fixed to.

Now off to talk to my wife’s business to implement Unified Communications for them.

Ruy Franco, Director of Sales and Marketing

Is lack of workplace flexibility keeping you in the office too long?

The Australian workplace is changing. There is a trend of workers requiring more and more flexibility in how they engage in the workplace. Called millennials, this generation of “digital natives” have always had internet and mobile phones and based on research expect a greater work/life balance. Depending on which report you read, millennials now make up over 30% of the workforce and with an ageing population by 2020 this figure will be more than 50%.

Organisations need to plan for this new generation and engage them through greater workplace flexibility. In some Australian capital cities, there are some very practical reasons why organisations need to provide flexibility for staff to work outside of the office. Rising house prices in most capital cities are seeing more people move to fringe areas to afford the home they want. An SHTS report in 2012 highlighted an increase in bus travel distance as these workers travel from new locations (source). More time spent travelling means less time parents have to spend with their families.

People are looking to balance their lifestyle and the needs of raising a family with a desire for career progression while being faced with increasing travel times and the demands of a global market and need to be contacted 24-7. An ABS report shows over 250,000 Victorians sought to change their working conditions stating childcare needs as the main reason for their most recent request (source). Of employees on long-term leave who made a request for changes to work arrangements; more family time and financial reasons (both 16%) were the most commonly reported reasons for the request. This followed by leisure or travel, and childcare needs (both 11%).

Employers need to be able to provide flexibility in how employees work. In an environment where collaboration drives greater productivity, organisations need to find solutions to have employees engaged whilst not physically in an office. Part of the answer is to implement the right kind of technology that is going to empower, engage and free employees.

Organisations need to look for a platform that enables unified communications and collaboration. Some current options include complex remote access solutions, forwarding calls to mobiles, and or providing a company mobile so organisations don’t lose control over inbound customer contacts. If the technology is not seamless, uptake rates are low and the project fails to deliver.

Look for a Unified Communications solution that can seamlessly provide:

  • Single number reach across multiple devices. Customers can continue to engage with a corporate office number.
  • Access to the corporate environment whilst not in the office to still remain part of the internal phone network.
  • The presence and the ability to integrate with other systems.
  • Instant Messaging to keep informal lines of communication open.
  • Video on demand, both one on one and group sessions. The ability to have visual cues when engaging is still critically important.
  • The ability to run ad-hoc virtual meetings. Often there isn’t time to have to book resources to run a video conference.
  • The ability to share documents and workspaces in real time without the need for additional emails and the time delay.
  • Cloud-based technology to make access ubiquitous and avoid complex login procedures.

Whilst technology won’t work without the right processes, policies, support and leadership, it can make the transition towards a flexible workplace rewarding for both the employee and organisation.

 

Design + code by Jalapeno Creative.

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