Flexible working in theory is ideal, but in practice it can sometimes hit snags in an organisation. That’s not because the model ‘doesn’t work’ – rather, it is due to the lack of tools employees have access to.
Staying mobile is integral to flexible working whether that means working from a smartphone, tablet or laptop. So if an employee can’t access corporate documents securely through personal devices, they are severely hamstrung. The onus is on management teams to adopt the necessary tools and cloud models that allow employees to conduct business wherever they may be. So what do organisations need to focus on to make flexible working a success?
On-the-go with the cloud
Whether you’re stuck on a train, running late or the kids are unwell, remote and flexible working lets you get on with critical work. Recently, on my commute to work, I was able to sign off a contract for a new employee, for example. The opportunity to agree deals instantly helps us to stay one step ahead of competitors. In this particular instance, I was able to onboard a highly-skilled candidate before any competitors had a chance to send an offer.
The ability to access documents in the cloud, or sign important agreements on the move can be the difference between meeting business targets and not. Failing to invest in the cloud and remote-working tools can impact every level of the company – from sales to HR, inefficient processes can lead to deals falling through and customers looking elsewhere.
Collaborate and listen
Workplace culture is changing. Employees expect flexible options and it is those business leaders who are fully on board with this concept that will help foster a culture that is accepting of employees who choose to work in this way. Sometimes, employees can feel they are judged by colleagues because they choose to work from home. They shouldn’t. Working from home does not mean sitting in front of Netflix all day. Only when leaders recognise and accept those embracing flexible working, will they see a shift in company culture and a subsequent improvement in results.
One way to demonstrate this commitment is to invest in collaborative working tools. Doing so will help employees, whether they’re working from home, in the office or a local coffee shop – to communicate with one another. Whether it’s through instant messaging platforms such as Slack, or voice or video conferencing, employees are able to connect with one another regardless of location.
The competitive edge
These same digital tools can also help with external meetings, particularly for employees with roles that require them to be constantly on the move. For example, the sales department is always out and about engaging with prospective customers. Giving them access to the best devices and cloud-based tools to help them sign and manage deals when they meet with potential customers offsite, can have a huge impact on your bottom line. Instantly completing deals on the spot removes the opportunity for the client to delay transactions, or potentially have second thoughts.
If your business isn’t open to flexible working then it’s time to reconsider. Alternatively, if you’re one of the many businesses that has adopted it with open arms, check that it actually works in practice. Assessing what your employees need and what their role requires of them will allow you to make an informed decision about the digital tools you should invest in and how to help flexible working reach its full potential. Implemented properly, flexible working has the potential to improve business operations significantly and keep your customers and employees happy.
Helen Sutton, Head of DocuSign UK