Technology that has permeated both our professional and personal life has led to the “always on” mentality for the majority of the workforce. But having to be “always on” has led to significant increases in burnout and attrition among employees. This has caused both employees and employers to look for alternative ways to gain the productivity they desire while reducing burnout and giving employees that work-life balance they need to be the most effective.
The dynamic between employees and employers has changed. Traditionally, the employer holds the power in determining how, when, and where an employee performed their work. But increasing demand for workplace flexibility is causing a shift for businesses looking to attract and retain the best talent in the industry.
LinkedIn recently looked at the biggest trends affecting the workplace in their Global Talent Trends 2019 report and found that 72% of professionals surveyed believed that workplace flexibility will be very important to the future of talent acquisition. Why? Productivity. The report shares a study done by Stanford in China, where a Chinese company enabled its employees to work from home. The results of the experiment was a 15% increase in productivity and a 50% increase in retention. It was so successful that the company ultimately opened the program up to all 16,000 employees and realized a 22% increase in productivity.
The Question Is Not If, But When
“Work flexibility is becoming the norm. The challenge is how fast can organizations provide it. Those that can are going to be in a far better position to retain top talent over the next three to five years.” ~Jason Phillips, VP Digital HR & Global Chief of Staff, Cisco
Work flexibility is no longer a perk but a must-have. Employees are looking to log in to tools and communicate from anywhere and everywhere. The responsibility is on the employer to enable the employee to communicate as they roam. LinkedIn tracked a 78% increase in mentions of job flexibility among candidates as important when they are considering a job offer. Millennials are increasingly selective in the company they choose to work for, and the majority of the generation cites flexible and remote working options as a key differentiator in why they choose one offer over another. In order to attract the top talent in the industry, businesses must enable a flexible or remote strategy to encourage the up and coming employees to chose them over their competitor.
Key Technology Needs for a Successful Remote or Flexible Work Strategy
Navigating a flexible work strategy can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be. LinkedIn shared these six steps to building a successful flexible work strategy in their Global Talent Trends Report:
- Know what your employees desire in a flexible work environment
- Partner with teams outside of just HR
- Help employees connect with technology
- Talk up your flex policies
- Train your leaders on how to manage flexible work teams
- Be flexible about flexibility
Not all flexible work options are purely remote options. But the main point is to enable your employees to attain that work-life balance they seek that works for them and reduces their overall stress in managing both work and life challenges. Unified-Communications-as-a-Service empowers your business and employees to collaborate effectively while they roam. There are three main methods of communications that are vital to enabling this collaboration: voice, video, and text.
- Voice & Voicemail Communications: Having reliable access to voice communications is vital to maintaining effective collaboration between the roaming employee and the rest of the team – and for most businesses, the office PBX is the bedrock of the communications technology. But not all PBX’s are created equal. Employees and employers alike need to be able to reliably communicate by voice, regardless of their respective locations. UC elements like mobile applications that turn any smartphone into an extension of the corporate PBX are essential in supporting this need. With mobile applications like UC Fone, employees are free to call customers, contractors and other necessary business contacts from their mobile phone while out of the office and still maintain the privacy of their personal contact information and preserving the work-life balance that is the key motivator of deploying a flexible work strategy. It also enables your business to preserve your corporate identity as the only information the callee sees is the corporate DID and name on their caller ID. Voicemail, as well, needs to be accessible apart from just the endpoint of the user. Voicemail that can be accessed via email, mobile phone, or another voice communication device is vital to ensuring that the roaming employee does not miss key messages while away from their desk.
- Video Communications: It is easy for workers who are not regularly in the physical office location to feel disengaged and isolated. They can struggle to form strong relationships with their co-workers and miss out on many of the impromptu social moments that are crucial to forming strong bonds with teammates. But video communications can help solve this barrier, enabling the teammate that is not able to physically attend that important team meeting still feel as if they are present. Video calling capabilities is essential to helping a flexible or remote work strategy succeed, keeping workers engaged, visible, and reducing the isolation often felt when working from outside of the office.
- Text Communications: Like video communications, text communications enable employees to collaborate easily while roaming. Many text exchanges can occur while the communicators are traveling or commuting, on their lunch break or in a doctor’s office, without the disruptive nature of answering a phone call. It retains privacy by allowing the team members to communicate critical business information without the surrounding occupants being privy to the information. Text communications also tend to be more informal, like instant messaging on the computer or mobile application, and can facilitate more of the banter like conversation that helps build those internal team building relationships.
Unified Communications is How the Future Works
As we stated above, work flexibility is no longer a perk businesses can choose to offer, but it is a necessity and is transforming the workplace across industries and locales. As flexible and remote work trends continue to grow and transform the workplace, businesses need to look for ways to build the foundation of a successful flexible work strategy. The words of Jason Phillips strongly resonate here. Those businesses that manage the transition, with the help of technology like Unified Communications, will be in a significantly better position in 3-5 years than those who do not act now.