The UK workforce is evolving like most aspects of life and undergoing a hurried digital transformation, the common 9-5 is a thing of the past for many. It is essential that the right tools be readily available to enable the mobility and utmost efficiency of the modern employee.
Organisations are facing numerous challenges including new legislation, an influx in millennials, and too much time spent on unproductive tasks such as internal meetings and emails.
A recent survey carried out by Mitel discovered that UK workers on average waste 20% of their time every day replying to and sending emails at a cost of up to £8,000 per year per employee.
Despite this 80% still believe it’s an efficient form of communication. It is essential that organisations are able to be flexible while at the same time govern their remote workforce and protect their assets.
It starts to raise the question as to whether companies are equipping their employees with the adequate alternative tools that establish seamless collaboration and unified communications.
With real-time status’ of where your colleagues are, multi-device integration with a single phone number so calls aren’t missed, chat capabilities, and collaboration apps that can host project content and to-do lists, employees should be able to achieve their workload within contracted hours.
From 1st January 2017 the “Right to disconnect law” was passed by the French parliament, which asked businesses to find an agreement with the workers’ councils to respect employees rest times and encourage a good balance between work and private times, e.g. no emailing after 6pm. If no agreement is possible then the company will have to put in place a charter of “good practices in the use of digital tools”.
However, some argue that for many employees responding to emails outside work hours is the only way they can keep on top of their inbox thanks to current inefficiencies. By simply regulating the hours during which employees can use work email will likely not combat these challenges.
Another example of governments attempting to help make workers more productive is trials of a six hour working day in Sweden. Within the first 18 months, nurses working shorter hours logged less sick leave, reported better perceived health and boosted their productivity by organising 85% more activities for their patients, from nature walks to sing-a-longs. But while it is believed to be a success and that shorter working hours may work as a long-term solution, at present the costs in implementing the scheme are too high to be sustainable.
The question now is will such schemes cause other countries to follow in close stead? Would this work in the UK? Would restricting emails outside of working hours actually solve efficiency issues? Or are there other ways of increasing efficiencies during existing working contracts whether they are six or eight hours long? For a business to function at full capacity its employees should be able to solely focus on the job you’ve hired them to do.
But at the same time it is fundamental that enterprises start to recognise employees’ workloads and start making a conscious effort to try and deliver solutions that aid them. It’s hard to believe that many employers are still not implementing or even considering remote and flexible working practices and make it easier for people to work from home. Especially when a recent Vodafone study indicates it can improve productivity and wellbeing.
In particular, millennials are driving a work-on-the-go, from any smart device movement, which is rapidly becoming a fundamental part of modern business. Additionally, organisations are more often than not made up of people working from multiple locations and geographies, and employees should not have to be restricted to sitting at a desk connected securely to the enterprise network.
A solution that brings together dispersed teams with real-time access to employees is required. Effortlessly giving them real-time access to audio, video conferencing, messaging, desktop and application collaboration on their smart devices via a single touchpoint or app.
One approach that companies around the world are starting to adopt is cloud based unified communications and collaboration. This is not only essential to help them along the path to digital transformation, but also to manage their workforce at a high level, with complete flexibility for both employer and employee. It increases productivity, enabling employees to access work documents no matter where they are in the world and from any device, whilst providing an improved level of protection of assets.
The adoption of smarter integrated tools provide a better standard of staff welfare and enable a more even work-life balance by reducing email traffic by 40% and saving workers approximately seventy minutes from the average working day. Mobile-first ways of working and IoT adoption are helping businesses keep one step ahead by boosting productivity and keeping employees happy.
As digital transformation in business accelerates, 2017 will see an increase in investment in the appropriate collaboration tools to create seamless connectivity to optimise productivity and decrease employee overtime.
It is fundamental that companies start to recognise the flexibility required and start making a conscious effort to try and deliver solutions. In turn, this will ease the strain on the workforce, improve output and ultimately drive revenue.
Sourced by Simon Skellon, UK vice president, Mitel Networks
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