It’s party conference season and the rhetoric onslaught appears to have started rather early this year.
One that did catch my eye, however, was the Green Party’s call for a “free time index”. In essence, it’s a suggestion that we should all be spending less time commuting and travelling to meetings where possible. Instead, we should all be working remotely. Something that we in the industry have not only been mooting for some time now but has been putting into practice.
The Party also drew attention to the amount of time we are now working whilst commuting, and that as a country, our work-life balance is “in crisis”.
And, while I’m not convinced, yet, that we are in a crisis – they do have a valid point.
The Technology Shift
Many moons ago, the technology didn’t exist to enable us to work whilst commuting. We worked in a world where we went to work and that was that. And I assume the argument is that those days were much better for our work-life balance.
But how about looking at this from another angle? How about considering that staff who are enabled to work whilst commuting are more productive and don’t waste those hours. This means that they can leave their place of work earlier because technology allows them?
And, how about those who only travel when they need to because they have the tools that allow them to work from home or another preferred location? There’s a green argument there but I’ll strive to remain apolitical…
The world is moving on at a pace. Millennials that are now entering the workplace are looking for progressive employers. They want to be empowered and not restricted to the 9 to 5.
They probably mock our archaic, inherited working regimes. We’ve been eulogising for years about the “work smarter, not harder” paradigm, but these guys are doing it. We should take note.
We have to embrace technology and modernise to keep pace with them – as they are setting tomorrow’s agenda. Likewise with our competitors, and we must ensure we attract and keep the best talent.
So if the technology is already here, and the benefits are clear and obvious for all to see, why hasn’t every business made the change?
The Three Cs
In our experience, there are three common reasons, the “three Cs”. They halt this change, but by adapting them, businesses can get on the front foot.
1 – Change
Because after all, if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always got…
So, does the business know what it needs to do? Does it even know where to start? Does the current IT team have the necessary experience to change the way it “has always been done”?
2 – Culture
This is where the drive from the very top needs to come. Does “C-suite” have the vision and desire to fundamentally look at how the business operates?
Is the appetite there to manage a shift in working practices that allow staff to work from anywhere? Are we really ready to empower our employees?
3 – Cost
There will need to be investment. But there are savings to be made and transforming to a modern way of working will make the businesses more efficient, attract new talent and will prevent good staff from leaving.
So, where to start? We’ve done this before. We have clients that we have taken through this journey who are now harnessing the benefits of providing a better working environment for their staff.
So perhaps some of us are busy working whilst commuting, but perhaps that provides the flexibility that most of us would choose, given the choice.