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Category Archives: Telecommuting

Corporate Yoga

Corporate Yoga

Historically, “Flexible Working” has been seen of the domain of the working mother. Trying to return to a previous career – juggling work demands and the school run. It conjures up images of telephones in one hand and a screaming baby in the other. Harried women trying to “have it all”

Outdated?

Absolutely.

Agility is a not a modern phenomenon – there has Always been the need to be able to do things differently – to maximise the opportunities that all elements of the workforce are able to offer, in a way and time that suits life. But more often than not, the stuffed shirts of the boardroom decided that change was not in fact a good thing, That innovation , god forbid, may actually increase productivity and perhaps mean change for themselves. And so we carried on doing what we always did.. and guess what…

The outbreak of the 2nd world war truly started a work revolt. Women were managing traditionally male dominated jobs and the home – and guess what – necessity truly was the mother of invention and this proved that looking at things differently still got the job done.

Back in those days the game of Women’s Football had a greater following than the mens…

But back then there were not the opportunities to practice genuine agility in the workplace. The modern technologies that we take for granted as a means to stay connected just didn’t exist. There was a genuine need to be always physically present at work.

But today we don’t have those restrictions. Technologies have moved on so much that there is a strong case for advocating more , not less, agile working. And before I become accused of too much femininism – there is no reason that this need to have a role that fits around the school run / life should continue to be the mainstay of women.

Surely the holy grail of work should be the ability to get the job done – in way that is most productive to the business whilst still allowing a high quality of life. A balance that leaves the employee empowered and ready to work during those “agile” hours?

So what does Agile Working mean?

Its an incredibly difficult definition to make – perhaps because quite simply there isn’t just one definer.

The RICS highlighted the fact that work is an activity, not a place – and that points us towards remote working – but it again it cant just be as simple as that. Some jobs do require you to be in a certain location..

So I would argue that Agile working isn’t just about time and space, its also about doing work differently, being more effective. Being outcome focussed rather than hours driven.

The Agile Future Forum whose aim is to provide leadership and practical support to disseminate agile working practices, considers these practices across the 4 dimensions of: time (when do people work?), location (where do people work?), role (what do people do?) and source (who carries out work?).

But however you choose to define it – the aim of agile working must surely be to ensure that you capture the most effective talent – utilising the right people, process, technology to ensure the most effective outcomes of a task.

Task Driven working – without restrictions as to how and where that is carried out.

It sounds amazing – and something we should all aspire to. Yet the concept of allowing more people to work in this more innovative way has been a slow burner. There is a reluctance to relinquish direct control over staff members – a fear that performance will drop without big brother peering through the office window. A reluctance to give up that concept of office “facetime” – the more hours I am here the better I must be.

This is an antiquated old school tie attitude – and one that needs vast readjustment. But like all leaps of faith – they require a degree of trust. Trust in your staff (which brings us back to the need to hire well!), trust in your technologies and trust in yourself.

By all accounts BT is trying to adopt a truly agile approach – they are using it in call centers – allowing carers to come back to work – in a virtual call center – sometimes even in shifts as short as 30 minutes. And they are finding it pays dividends. Ironically staff are now “working” longer hours – the need for “facetime” gone – and commuting down means that employees are actually able to devote more at work time.. to work. KPI performance has increased and employees are happier.

Plot this against the national return to work rate for mothers which sits at approximately 40%.. at BT that figure is over 90% – directly reported as being due to the adoption of agile working practices.

Sickness rates are down and the ability to employ a more diverse workforce is up. Stress related illness alone is reporting a 35% decrease. Cognitive diversity breeds innovation – and the ability to become a more socially inclusive employer brings business benefits and personal ones.

A side effect of this agility is also an improved carbon footprint. Sustainibility is high on the government agenda and BT has witnessed agility bring improve its sustainability.

But agility can’t happen all by itself. A company must have a cultural mindset that welcomes innovation and strong trust in its people. Cost per head – technology is cheaper than space – so business wise it makes financial sense to consider a different approach. Diversity improves innovation and empowered and engaged employees deliver far more when they are genuinely trusted to get on with task focused work.

And so on that note – I will stop working for my agile employers on a Tuesday night and sign off happily… (as Tuesday nights when the kids are in bed is a time and a place that works for me… Task completed, no boundaries!!)

http://fmlink.com/articles/british-telecom-moves-one-step-beyond-flexible-working-to-agile-working-2/

https://www.glassdoor.co.uk/blog/9-companies-really-flexible/

 

Workplaces of the future

Workplaces of the future

Total Talent Management is the current avant-garde of recruitment. The next method of competitive advantage. Everyone jostling for the “best” and most “talented” candidates and implementing benefit and reward schemes to ensure they retain their loyalty and dedication (Hardly a light bulb moment in the evolution of employee / employer relations).

But here is the thing. Not everyone is or can be the BEST.

In fact – the vast majority of us cannot, by default be the most talented.

So – given that this is an absolute – how can companies and recruitment alike – possibly begin to align the search for the best candidate with the population of potential employees that exist.

Talent scarcity is a big concern for the C-suite. Put simply – there are currently not enough people with the right skills / experience ready to step into roles. The supposed / perceived talent gap is driving the need for a shift in traditional recruitment and retention strategies to a more innovative and employee focused approach

So given that there is not enough Talent (or even that Talent in itself is not enough) – the future of talent management, at least in some part, must lie in truly understanding our employees in order to unlock potential; what motivates them, what is important to them?

What is needed is agility, connectivity, speed and cognitive diversity. The ability to respond in an ever shifting environment. Business must change – not just to take in the demands of the so called 4th industrial revolution, but also to reflect the changing workforce demographics and expectations of today and tomorrow.

It’s time to rethink what Talent management actually entails:

The Mercer Talent Trends review for 2017 raises some critical new perspectives for the age of disruption

Change:

The future of business is transformation. Evolution has already occurred – in order to stay ahead the pace of change needs to be rapid, efficiency increased and customer experience improved. And somehow – in this whirlwind of advancement – the focus on People within the organisation needs to stay high to ensure that the growth is sustainable.

93 % of businesses are planning to effect organisational change within the next 2 years – replacing the traditional vertical top down approach with a more streamlined and customer focused horizontal structure. This removes some of the more formal management roles and requires greater autonomy and critical thinking among employees.

Redesign is critical to success and having a solid “decision science” behind this will ensure that the new job roles accurately reflect the needs of agility, innovation and simplicity. As many of the new roles have no precedent – they need to be outlined via business contribution rather than specific “job spec” language. Changing job evaluation methodology has to be a key focus for TTM to assist with the change process.

Digital is what is pushing this change agenda – yet the vast majority of businesses do not feel they are a “digital company”. Most corporations have focussed on the external process first leaving the employee experience for later. Yet in the ever shifting world where talent is in short supply this is a short sighted and risky approach to take.

Personalization

A corporate “culture” is not a new premise. Far from it. What has shifted is that it is now no longer good enough to have a one size fits all approach to corporate culture. Gone is the narrow focus of company engagement – instead enter the world of employee experience. By this we mean a tailored approach, a person centric holistic view of the individual employee. A list of standard global perks and benefits is outdated and does not cater for the changing demands of the employee. Yet this is where the digital age can truly come into its own. Greater flexibility in working practices is becoming far easier to balance with corporate strategies due to technological advances. Think real-time workforce apps and career matching!

However there is still work to be done – many employees still report concerns that so called flexible working is perceived as a perk rather than as a means of optimising individual circumstances to bring about maximum return for everyone. It is estimated that 75% of the worlds workforce will be Millennials by 2025 – if you do not change with the times and cater for the needs of the many then you will become part of the problem.

True personalisation of the employee experience needs to include more than just a benefits package. Businesses need to consider the health, wealth and career path of their talent. Nurture and reward a culture of “work working for you” and utilise technology to act as a differentiator for your business.

Rewards

Given the shift in a one size fits all approach to corporate culture, it is no surprise that a change in how employees are rewarded is also on the cards. Whilst the old guard of fair and competitive pay and career opportunities still rank highly with employees, these are no longer the only way to reward and recognise contribution.

A climate of uncertainty is leading many employees to re-evaluate where and how they want to work. Corporate values are often measured via its performance management and rewards scheme and as such 83 % of companies have made / planning to make changes to their goal setting processes.

Exactly how rewards are calculated seems to be up for debate – but transparency about the metrics seems to be critical. Whether your performance ratings are numerical or verbal seems to matter less than a forward progressive approach to career development. The basics still count. A fair and transparent contractual reward system coupled with clear individual and team performance metrics. Add to this a greater clarity of information dissemination about career progression and further opportunity / reward for greater performance and it would seem that the ability to reward fairly and positively is on chart for effective change in 2017

Analytics

The sheer amount of real-time data available is greater today than ever before. Yet despite this wealth of information the progress towards “predictive” analysis is still slow. Mercer reports that almost 1 in 4 companies are still only generating basic talent management descriptive reports and historical trend analysis.

Deloitte Human Capital Trends report echoes this feeling. Highlighting a mere 8% of respondents using tools such as Organisational Network Analysis (ONA) to help inform better growth and redesign.

Properly done, Talent Analysis has the capacity to drive employee performance by providing the evidence that underpins talent management and business decisions. Given the rapid speed of corporate change, the ability to utilise talent data will not only help minimise the risk of talent loss, low productivity and engagement but also ensure corporations are better placed to plan for the workplace of the future.

As part of providing a fully integrated TTM service we must help corporations view talent through a different lens, to help them discover the potential and untapped skills in their existing employees.

The talent is there – the process of evaluating and developing it needs to evolve!

10 top tips to maximise your Telecommute

10 top tips to maximise your Telecommute

Working from home is a most excellent idea – I should know… I am one of an ever increasing number of telecommuters, freelancers, self-employed – or just those of us who actually find that the work life balance afforded by working at home is significantly improved.

On the face of it – working at home makes perfect sense.The commute is short, you don’t need to worry about someone eating YOUR sandwich, and you can get on with the job at hand without all the noise and distractions of the office.

However, there is NOTHING more distracting than being at home.The temptation to sneak in a load of laundry, make a coffee every 5 minutes, make dinner or just catch up on Andy Murray is overwhelming. And whilst the peace and quiet can afford you more time to concentrate – the reverse is also true – the quiet itself can be distracting!

Expert studies show that on average a “telecommuter” is more productive than their office counterparts. “Homeworking” has been shown to reduce staff turnover and improve morale, as well as reducing absenteeism and decreasing stress levels!

I personally find working from home has been the best career move I have ever made.It allows me to carry on with a career and juggle the demand of a home and family.I have been in one way or another, a “telecommuter” for the whole of my career and have discovered that there are a few key tips for making this work for employer and employee

computer-keyboard

1. Get a Room: Sounds obvious – but you really need a room or designated area of your house that is set aside purely for work. Having your work and home life mixed up together is a recipe for distraction. Ideally your office should be somewhere the kids don’t go and is organised professionally.Confidentiality rules still apply to home-workers so get into the habit of ensuring that the work you do at home follows the same structure as that you would have done in the office.Keep your room free from other house “clutter”.This is not the place for drying your laundry and the kids’ football kit!!

2. Dress the part: Whilst I am not advocating a full business suit every day – I am recommending clothes!!! Home is a place where we relax and chill out. Pyjamas are associated with lazy Sundays mornings and are not conducive for turning on a work brain. Getting dressed is all about walking the walk. It sets your mind up that you are going to WORK. Not just going downstairs where there may be some work – and the difference is huge! Get up at a regular time and follow a morning routine similar to one you would use for heading to the office; shower, coffee and breakfast (see Tip 5!) and dressed!

3. Keep it professional: I think this may be the hardest and most important tip I can give you. It is all too easy to think that working from home means things aren’t as critical as when you are in the office. NOT TRUE! The rule I apply here is that if it isn’t ok in the office – then it isn’t ok in my Home Office.I schedule work hours that are realistic and achievable (and stick to them!), the kids and cats are not welcome during these hours! If my friends call – I am working!!! I have a to-do list – and I make sure I get it done in the time I have allocated that day. But equally – if a task sometimes takes longer – it is equally important not to allow work to encroach into “home time” – replan it for the next day.Having a schedule focuses the mind into Work Mode. Laundry and dinner are not welcome here!

4. Take a break: Research has shown that productive workers tend to focus for 52 minutes and then disengage for 17. These breaks help the brain to come back to work refreshed and ready to tackle challenges again. It is all too easy to lose track of time without the distractions of the office – and just procrastinating can be a big challenge – so can working too hard and too long! Ensure that you do take a break, get some fresh air (maybe even use those 17 minutes to sneakily cook dinner or empty the dishwasher! By scheduling your household distractions into a work break – it does stop them being so tempting – and also gets them done!! But keep to schedule!!! No extras!)

5. Eat Healthily: The temptation to just wander into the kitchen is huge while working from home. Without co-workers and office buzz around you it is all too easy to use food as a distraction… Your waistline will not thank you for the extra biscuits that no-one saw you sneaking – and your productivity levels won’t either! Eating too much OR too little isn’t good for your health or your job! Schedule breaks, ensure you do stop for lunch – and use task completion as a time for a coffee (and ok – ONE biscuit!)

6. Reduce Web Clutter: It’s great that we can keep multiple tabs open at once – and it’s incredibly useful when researching articles (I should know!). But when you are in your “work time” then shut down the Facebook tab, close off hootsuite and turn off the BBC sports feed that tells you how Andy Murray is getting on RIGHT NOW! The temptation to look and procrastinate (I will only look for 5 minutes turns into “just one more game / set / match”). The highlights will be on later – and if you get on during scheduled work time – you may just catch the end of the match live!!

7.Task vs Email: Set times for answering the phone and your emails.Voicemail is there for a reason – and it is all too easy to allow yourself to be deviated from the task by constant email checking. In that professional plan of yours – have a “comms slot” – where you bulk answer calls and messages, helping you to stay on task.

8. Stay Flexible: all of the above doesn’t mean you must rigidly stick to the 9-5 of the office environment. One of the major reasons many people choose to work from home is the flexibility it affords them. If you are a keen cyclist and its winter – of course it makes sense to cycle in the middle of the day, when it’s light. But ensure that you stick to Tip 2 above – and ensure that by keeping things professional you can plan to have this amazing life that allows you to work AND play at a time that works best for everyone.

9. LEAVE! Counter intuitive? Not so – sometimes you just need to get out of the house. If the distractions / quiet are becoming too much then head out to your nearest coffee shop – wifi is everywhere so change your scenery and use that as a boost to keep you focussed!

10. Don’t forget about the office altogether: Just because you are a remote worker doesn’t mean that the office has actually vanished! Whilst there are many benefits to working at home – there are also benefits to real interaction with other human beings! In fact this is one of the areas I miss the most.Take the time each day to speak to someone – check in! Stay in touch, And ideally make sure that you take the time at least once a month to meet up with your colleagues – Yes – it maybe just to catch up on the gossip, but it helps you stay connected and that is critical to maintaining motivation!

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Finally – Remember Why You Work!! I said 10 tips so I will call this “advice” instead… But it’s critical to remember the reasons why you work in the first place. One of the biggest downsides to working from home is that it is ALWAYS there! This is why things like closing the door at the end of the day, and sticking to working hours are critical.Working from home shouldn’t translate into working at all or any time of the day and night. Being efficient and self-disciplined in your approach will actually buy you back a work life balance that is enviable – provided you stick to your professional approach! Telecommuting can be an excellent solution for employees and employers with advantages such as increased productivity and decreased stress. But it is important for the remote worker to still feel connected and a part of the team. Using these tips to stay professional at home will help as will continuing to think about what you want out of your job, and the goals you’ve set for yourself. Keep sight of your aspirations, because more than any tip or tool, that’s what will keep you motivated.

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