Idealpeople Blog: Flexi-Time & Remote Working

Friday, August 24, 2007

Flexi-Time & Remote Working

A recent survey of 600 UK-based technology firms showed that employee flexi-time and tele/remote working is currently at the bottom of IT directors' priorities, despite them also saying that their main problems are firstly recruiting and secondly retaining the top talent.

Interestingly, the findings also showed that those firms whose turnover had increased by 15 per cent or more in the last year were at least twice as likely to allow employees to work from home.

So, on the one hand we have managers who don't like offering flex-time/remote working, and on the other hand we have evidence that it's a very effective business measure. These are interesting findings, although there is one thing missing.

Remember that recruiting the very best talent is the number one driver towards growth. So are those companies which allow flexi-time and are improving turnover as a result seeing the positive effects of having a strong recruitment brand? Is their success maybe something to do with being able to attract more staff and keep those currently working for them? To answer this, we needed to find out what potential employees and jobseekers think of flexi-time and remote working. Seeing as we know a fair few jobseekers, we decided to ask a couple of them whether they thought the possibility of flexi-time would attract them to work for one employer over another who had strict "in the office" guidelines. Here's what they thought..

I'm not that bothered
I can honestly say that even when I get my head down from a remote location I'm not as productive as I am in the office. I've spoken to a few people and some believe that staff/people in general can't be productive in an environment where they're surrounded by a variety of distractions including television, screaming children, needy partners and a lack of co-workers to seek advice from. When I took my last job, I made sure it was in easy reach of my home and that it was something I could commit the right number of hours to. I don't see how it benefits the company I work for if people are at home.

I love flexi-time/home-working
I have two children who are both in school, and whilst it's a rare occurrence, there are times when it helps me enormously when I can pop out and pick them up from school (especially if my partner is busy). There's also those times when the car needs an MOT or something's being delivered: I know I'm going to be an hour late or need to leave an hour early, but I'd rather not take a whole day's holiday, particularly if I can ensure that lost time is made up. Everyone's personal situation is different but as far as I'm concerned, as long as performance doesn't drop it doesn't hurt to show a bit of flexibility. If all other things were equal, I'd take the job offering flex-time or home-working as it allows me to balance things better. Ultimately, I wouldn't reject a job purely because the company had a strict "in-the-office" policy but it's a big bonus for me - and I can imagine many people for whom it would be an even bigger bonus.

With the sheer volume of off-shoring in today's climate, you can't simply write off the fact that people can be equally productive from a remote location. To some extent there may still be a political driver for enforcing an "in-office" policy - is it fair on everyone if some people are allowed to work remotely? Probably not, but maybe the fact that it isn't "fair" reflects a secret feeling that it's something we'd all quite like to be able to do. And the stats don't lie either: the more things you can create that make people want to work for you, the more your chances are of attracting the best talent out there.

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