Ask yourself this: is your businesses flexible? Working flexibly means two things – empowering your workforce to work from anywhere and being flexible when it comes to working hours. For a growing business, these two factors can be transformative and deliver the competitive edge needed to take your business to the next level. However, offering flexibility and using it to reap business benefits are very different. In this blog, we examine a modern way of working and its impact on your customers, costs and culture.
Research from Sage has found that only one in four businesses (26%) currently offer flexible working as standard to all employees. While this may not be a shock, smaller businesses – where agility is key to competing with the bigger players in the market – need to look seriously at making this standard practice. Two in every five companies we surveyed also felt that flexible working will be expensive to implement. The cost for any given company will be affected by numerous factors, such as the industry they operate in and the organisation’s size, but the long-term benefits and efficiencies can far outweigh initial set-up costs. So, what are the benefits of flexible working, and what do businesses need to bear in mind when looking at boosting mobility?
A more empowered, motivated and loyal workforce
The ability to work from home, or work slightly different hours, is being requested more and more, particularly by those trying to find a healthy work-life balance. Those organisations able to accommodate these requests stand to benefit from happier, more loyal employees. While staff retention is important to businesses of all sizes, smaller companies may depend on a handful of key figures for their success. Flexibility could be the key to keeping them happy and holding on to vital knowledge and experience.
Better customer relationships
If mobility sits at the heart of your operation then this means your team is truly able to work from anywhere. Aside from cost and employee benefits, this can help with retaining and growing business as well. If your staff are able to visit customers at the drop of a hat they will feel better looked after, more loyal, and more willing to invest in new products or services from you. Win win.
Quite simply, having fewer employees working from the office means that you’ll need less office space. With commercial property rates at incredibly high levels, this can translate to significant savings.
Reduced business risk
Employee absence costs UK businesses billions each year, whether this is due to illness, adverse weather, or travel complications. The ability to work from home removes many of these issues, helping growing businesses to mitigate risk and thereby boosting productivity and efficiency.
What to consider:
Ask yourself how flexible working will affect your company’s working culture. If your business thrives because of its bustling office environment it may be that your staff are allowed to work from home only once a week, with some based in the office permanently. It’s still important to make sure that they’re able to work from home, but that doesn’t mean completely stripping your company’s personality in the process.
Get the right technology in place
If you’re going to enable work on the go, then you need to make sure your team can access the information they need at all times, from anywhere. This should apply to all business processes as well, from emails to invoicing, sales data to telephony. This means ensuring you have solid IT support in place, just in case something does go awry.
At Sage, we are committed to helping businesses of all sizes succeed and prosper. That’s why our technology is designed to move your business into the next gear; whether that’s by allowing a more flexible way of working for your employees, or by being able to manage your business online and on the move. Sage 200 Extra Online is our business management solution that helps Small and Medium-sized Enterprises get full visibility of information across their entire business.