7 tips on technology and flexible working

The real success and, of course, the challenge of flexible working lies in making it not just a reality, but a successful business strategy for your organisation, says David Critchley of Cisco.

4th November 2009 at 12:14 pm

One of the key steps to get an effective flexible working programme off the ground is getting the technology right, which involves more than just buying new equipment.

For those businesses that are considering how to integrate flexible working technologies and practices into their organisations, here are a few key considerations.

  • What’s the plan – flexible working has many benefits but it’s important to know how it will best suit your individual business. Before any purchase or implementation, work out who in the business needs access to flexible working and what specific tools they need to be able to deliver the benefits it can provide. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution so base your purchasing decisions on your organisation’s individual requirements, budgets and growth plans.
  • Spell it out – all new systems come with initial teething problems. Try to minimise any confusion or miscommunication by setting out a usage policy with details such as who has the option to work flexibly, what reporting structures they will need to adhere to, what resources they will have access to, how they can be reached while out and what office-based team members will or won’t need to do in their absence.
  • Keep them in the loop – remote or flexible workers, who spend a lot of time out of the office, can quite often start to feel disconnected from their team members or the wider organisation. Keep them in the loop of all communication and involve them in team or company-wide discussions wherever possible – even if they have to login remotely – so they still feel part of the whole.
  • Don’t be Big Brother – one of the key advantages of flexible working is increased productivity through the reduction of downtime so it’s important to give flexible workers the autonomy to make the best use of the extra time they gain from working remotely. Establish a reporting process that allows them this flexibility and freedom, but still gives team leaders visibility of ongoing actions and progress.
  • Stay connected – whether by telephone, email or video conferencing there are a multitude of options for keeping in touch without necessarily being in the office. Make sure flexible workers have the resources to stay connected when they’re out – working remotely shouldn’t mean missed calls.
  • Get help – while technology is a great enabler for business, it’s important to remember that it’s about more than just hardware and software in isolation. When you commit to a flexible working plan, make sure you have the IT support that can handle the demands of employees working away from the office.
  • Keep an eye on it – change is usually the only constant in business. Monitor the ongoing progress of your flexible working system to make sure it stays relevant to your business needs as the organisation grows and evolves.

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David Critchley

David Critchley is the Director of Cisco's UK & Ireland SME and Commercial division. http://www.cisco.com/uk

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