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A school of thought on home working

After a summer of bliss, reality has kicked back in with a vengeance.

September has ushered in the return of the school run and the UK’s roads have gone back to their natural state of gridlock as droves of parents drop their children off at the school gates. I’m not going to berate the school run as it’s a sad fact of modern life.

However, I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling hoodwinked. As each week passed in July and August I could feel myself slowly being lulled into a false sense of security. I’ve been able to hit the snooze button on my alarm more often because I know I could have that all important 10 or even 20 extra minutes in bed and I’d still get to work on time. But not anymore.

Each morning I look at my fellow commuters as we all inch our way to work and think there’s got to be more to life than spending so much time in traffic. And there is.

There has been a raft of studies done by various industry bodies saying that record numbers of firms are adopting flexible working policies, but you only have to look at all those poor souls stuck in congestion each morning to realise the circle isn’t being squared.

I don’t think it’s down to a lack of willingness by companies because, on the whole, most of the ones I speak to can see the advantages of home working on a number of fronts. Increased productivity, greater flexibility and more committed employees are just some of the benefits we have noticed within our own business. And as a remote worker myself I can vouch for that from both sides of the fence.

From an employee’s perspective the benefits are obvious. They don’t waste so much time commuting which is a massive boost for their work/life balance. And of course they are quids in saving money on petrol especially at a time when rising fuel prices are really hitting the purse strings of most families.

Where the blocker may be is technology. Well actually, the adoption of technology to be more precise. It feels like the technology to enable home working has been around since I was a boy but maybe the simple truth is that the HR departments of all these companies have been quick out of the blocks to say they have all these policies in place without actually checking with IT counterparts to see if their systems support remote working.

In our experience, we come across companies that have the desire to offer home working but not the IT infrastructure to fully support it.

In some cases simple fixes or configuration changes are all that’s required to allow employees to dial in from home or elsewhere. In other cases an investment is required to upgrade the IT.

Either way, these changes won’t cost the earth. We have been banging the drum for home working for a long time now and will continue to do so because it underpins the reason we are in business: to help firms make the most of technology so they can work smarter.

And, if as a result of more firms working smarter it goes some way to easing the congestion then so much the better. It’ll mean I might be able to hit the snooze button more often and still get to work on time.

Andy Dent

 

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