Maximising Your Flexible Workforce: A Three Step Approach for SMEs

At the same time our corporate responsibilities have changed too.

We need to ensure our teams are always accessible and react almost instantaneously. Succeeding in the global, always-on marketplace calls for agility, so ‘flexibility’ is the order of the day.

If we want customers to remain loyal, we need to deliver with a smile; regardless of the time.

Add to this the need for talented employees – and the high expectations they have for their working situations and you’d understand why the word ‘flexibility’ can trouble business leaders.

Flexible Working Rights
While parents already have the right to ask for flexible working, and the employer is obliged to consider all requests, from October 2014 the right to request flexible working will be granted to all employees with 26 weeks continuous service.

This change in legislation could have a dramatic effect on SMEs. The thought that team members could ask for flexible working arrangements may seem daunting– but keep an open mind.

The Technological Nitty-gritty
The success of flexible working depends on the availability of up-to-date technology, as employees need to be able to work efficiently away from the office.

Flexible working requires a combination of decent mobile hardware, secure networking capabilities and smooth-running collaboration software. In our workshops, we focus on the following:

1. Devices
What do SMEs really need to do when not in the office, which is the best device? Oftentimes, a mobile device is sufficient. With the roll out of 4G, UK businesses can take advantage of faster connection speeds – making working from a mobile device a real possibility.

2. Apps
What will employees be doing with their devices and which applications they need to get the job done. From Android apps to bespoke suites of programmes – there’s an effective solution for every employee in every business.

3. VPN
A Virtual Private Network enables secure remote access in to your corporate IT network. We all check our Gmail and Hotmail accounts on the move and services such as Dropbox are fast becoming a norm – why should your corporate IT network be any less accessible? With the right security measures in place, it doesn’t need to be.

Need for Robust Policies
Finally – once the systems are in place, it is vital you provide management and usage policies. These set ground rules how devices should be used and by whom, but also facilitate routine maintenance, ensuring devices and their applications remain up to date, in efficient working order and compliant with regulations.

Three Simple Steps
In conclusion, to increase business’ agility – remember to take these three points into consideration: know your employees’ rights and how to meet them; assess and procure the right technology to fit your needs; and then ensure guidance policies are in place. Stick to this plan and you’ll boost much more than agility – productivity, morale and even turnover will all get a lift!

By Martin Flick, Chief Executive, Olive Communications