Look around your office and I’m sure you’ll see that quite a few of your colleagues aren’t in. With summer holiday season in full swing, many of them might be on leave, but others are likely to be working from home or even customer sites.
It’s not just over the summer that increasing numbers of employees are working remotely. Many companies offer flexible working, including home working, as a standard policy and many employees find it not only more convenient but that they can be more productive when working from home. Research published last year shows more than one in two (54%) UK workers are based outside the office more than 2.5 days of the working week, while more than one third (36%) say they work exclusively from home when they work remotely. Another study predicts that by 2020 half of us will be working remotely.
This trend isn’t confined to the UK either. Gallup’s latest State of the American Workplace study also highlights how employees are increasingly working outside the physical confines of the office. And a New York Times survey from last year reported that, out of nearly 200,000 U.S. employees, 43 percent of respondents said they worked remotely at least some of the time.
All this research points to the need to set workers up for success in an evolving working environment, where “work” may no longer be a single physical place. Here are three ways that businesses can ensure they are empowering their teams as mobile work become increasingly mainstream:
Ensure that employees have the tools they need to do their jobs at home or on the road
A 2018 Oxford Economics study found that less than one in three (32%) employees feel they are equipped with the tools they need to work distraction-free when outside the office. I find it concerning that so many workers don’t feel they are fully equipped to work efficiently whenever and wherever they’re working. Businesses have the responsibility to help their employees overcome the challenges associated with remote productivity. This includes, for example, the ability to be clear and professional on important calls, even from the road.
Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach to IT strategy
I think it’s also vital to understand the distinct work styles in the enterprise, which each have their own needs and pain points. It’s a mistake to think of the mobile workforce as a single, monolithic group when in fact it encompasses several different user behaviours, device preferences and work styles. Taking a people-centric approach to IT – and developing strategies to support users as people – will ultimately ensure better productivity and a happier team. Plantronics has conducted in-depth research into this topic and you’ll be hearing more soon.
Ensure that expectations are clear
Along with constant connectivity comes the threat of burnout. The Oxford Economics research shows more than a quarter (27%) of employees – and 43 percent of executives – said they experience pressure (brought on by themselves or by others) to be always connected as a result of new digital technologies. It’s critical to establish clear communication around expectations for availability and productivity, to ensure that mobile work is an asset, not impediment, toward work-life balance. The Gallup survey found that:
“…more than half of employees (53%) say a role that allows them to have greater work-life balance is ‘very important’ to them when considering whether to take a new job.”
Ultimately, workers want to do their jobs well, whether they are in the office or otherwise. The trend toward remote working promises only to continue, making it more important than ever to ensure your team is happy and productive, wherever they may roam.
Guest Blog by Clare Tibbitts, Head of Marketing, Plantronics UK & Ireland & Multi-Country Regions
Clare Tibbitts is Head of Marketing for Plantronics UK & Ireland. In this role, Clare is responsible for building Plantronics’ brand and presence in one of the company’s key markets, while also supporting new business development and leading Plantronics’ Manager Pro software solution initiatives.
Tibbitts joined Plantronics in 2005 and quickly progressed to head up internal sales and marketing for the UK and Ireland team, while also supporting the marketing initiatives in ‘emerging markets’ including Eastern Europe, CIS, Africa, Middle East, Turkey, Greece and Israel. Passionate about the company, its solutions and the future of the workplace, she is adamant that smarter working should be at the heart of every business.
Prior to joining Plantronics, Tibbitts held international marketing roles in a variety of industries and companies, including the likes of Nestle, Computer 2000 and 3Com. Tibbitts has a BSc (Hons) degree in Managerial and Administrative Studies from Aston University in Birmingham, UK, specialising in Economics and International Marketing.
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