Laptop usage among office workers has tripled in the past decade. Emails and instant messaging have overtaken physical meetings as the primary mode of communication, mobile phone usage has doubled, and one in ten respondents now use a tablet at work. Video collaboration is also growing rapidly, jumping from 26% to 42% since 2002. Companies and employees are clearly demanding the opportunity for efficient collaboration and enhanced productivity.
“People work better when they work together, wherever they are.”
Physical location boundaries are disappearing. Companies that can offer flexibility are retaining and attracting top talent faster than their competitors. People are happier because they spend more time being productive outside the office; at home, at a co-working center, or even at a customer location; and less time commuting and polluting.
“Flexible Work has primarily been considered an employee benefit, enabling a better work-life balance and reducing travel. But it is now recognized as a business benefit, improving productivity by as much as 39 percent.”
HR professionals implementing Flexible Work Practices should consider these four factors:
1. Objectives: Start With the End in Mind
What is your key objective in implementing Flexible Working? Employee work-life balance? Productivity? Attracting talent? While Flexible Working supports many organizational goals, it’s helpful to approach the implementation based on your desired outcomes.
If cost reduction is your priority, the focus may be to decentralize job functions and relocate to lower cost areas. Employees would require access to tools such as the company VPN, VoIP telephony and video collaboration. These factors and the process of implementation would differ if business continuity or employee work-life balance were the primary goal. As such, working with key business decision makers to prioritize goals before moving forward is critical.
2. Environment: Support Teams with the Right Culture and Management Mindset
Adopting Flexible Working is a major culture and process change for the organization. A solid communications strategy will make it possible:
• Feedback is sought from employees and managers at all levels and functions to encourage engagement and acceptance.
• Eligibility for Flexible Working is clearly communicated, both centrally and through managers. Communicate to all employees is vital, even if they do not qualify. Transparency will ensure that employees support the change.
• Regular forums for feedback should be conducted to keep track of challenges and successes, monitor areas that can be improved, and ensure that participants are involved.
• Virtual meetings should occur via video collaboration – enabling managers and teams to meet regardless of location. Collaboration provides motivation and support, ultimately driving productivity.
3. Partnering: Teamwork is Vital to Success
Cross-functional teams play an important role in Flexible Work practices. HR professionals must partner with multiple departments to plan, execute and deliver success. People form a key part of the equation, supported by HR through communication, training, change management, and managing non-cooperation.
Two equally important elements are Real Estate – managed by the Facilities team, and Technology – managed by IT. Facilities ensure employee satisfaction with the functionality of all workspaces. IT delivers enhanced user experiences, often including video collaboration solutions that can be smoothly integrated anywhere: Amphitheater, boardroom, conference room, executive office, or at home.
“People form a key part of the equation, supported by HR through communication, training, change management, and managing non-cooperation.”
4. Resources: Take Advantage of Enabling Technology
Organizations that are incorporating Flexible Work practices often rely on video collaboration to support their innovative initiatives, making it easier for teams to collaborate face-to-face with each other and access knowledge remotely. Nearly as effective as “being there,” video communication offers the benefits that come from experiencing body language, facial expressions, and even environmental contexts from retail stores to production lines to R&D laboratories and the Board room —all without the logistical challenges or costs that come from in-person meetings.
Video collaboration also allows ad hoc rich media communication with global colleagues, as well as the inclusion of suppliers and customers who can contribute essential insight and business value.
People work better when they work together, wherever they are.
In a world where expectations are growing, budgets are shrinking, and employees are increasingly mobile, innovative practices such as Flexible Work will continue to transform business for the foreseeable future.
Daniel joined Polycom in February of 2012 as Vice President of Talent Management, Learning and Development. In this role, he is responsible for building individual, team and organizational capabilities across the globe in order to accelerate the company’s innovation and growth goals. His responsibilities include Talent Management, Talent Acquisition, Organizational Design, Leadership Development, Learning, Diversity, Employee Engagement, and Performance Management.
Prior to joining Polycom, Daniel served as Vice President of Talent Management, Learning and Development at Hewlett Packard where he led the Talent organization supporting a 27,000 person/$25B division of the company. Previously, Daniel led the corporate Talent Management function at Raytheon, where he was responsible for building a talent pipeline across the enterprise. His worked was recognized externally by leading the first ever placement of the company on Fortunes, “Top Companies for Leaders” list.
Daniel also brings senior level experience from Bank of America as Vice President, Learning and Organizational Effectiveness, and increasingly complex roles at Sun Microsystems, Click2Learn and Maxwell Technologies.
He possesses over 20 years of professional experience and has served in global human resources roles for public, private and consulting companies throughout his career.
Daniel holds a Master’s Degree in Educational Technology from San Diego State University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Ithaca College.
He is based in San Jose, California.