by Nick O’Shiel, CEO, Omagh Enterprise
Given the increase in levels of access to the Internet in recent years, the practice of flexible working has grown.
Employers like it because it reduces costs and improves staff recruitment and retention; employees like it because it reduces travel time and improves health and well-being.
The tradition of always having to travel to one place to work is changing, as new technologies create new rules and new habits for people and companies.
The idea of working from a location other than the traditional office is gaining in popularity, as the practice spreads across all sectors and types of organisation.
The trend looks set to grow as more companies look for ways to reward and engage staff and employees search for ways to find a better work/life balance.
Flexible-working, shared-working and remote-working can all be done by people in part-time or full-time roles, as flexibility is matched to suit the needs of employer and employee.
The ideal mix is a balance between office time to develop relationships, maintain contact and attend meetings; and away from the office time to reduce travel, provide flexibility and improve quality of life.
The practice has grown to include the self-employed and start-up businesses without fixed locations, as smart phones and mobile technology combine to make it possible to work from almost anywhere.
Business centres, shared offices, hot-desks and coffee shops are increasingly used for carrying out business and holding formal and informal meetings.
The ability to be flexible means working from a traditional office is becoming less relevant, as staff work from wherever they are with whatever they have at times that suit.
From a manager’s point of view, it is likely they are already managing people who work flexibly and dealing with the issues that arise from such arrangements.
The issues for employers include the need to keep in touch with staff and the development of a structure to ensure interaction and feedback, so employees don’t feel isolated or excluded.
The issues for employees include the need for discipline and structure in their work and staying in touch with what is happening in the company, so they feel involved and connected.
SO, the Internet is changing the way we work and creating opportunities for those who embrace flexible working.