People & Leadership

How a flexible work environment can energize your business

Flexible Workplace

Many of you will be familiar with the stereotypical office environment: beige walls, synthetic lighting, and grey cubicles. This organizational structure doesn’t just look dated, it’s also damaging to businesses that want to plan for success through digital transformation.

Modern business both permits and expects a far more unified and mobile-minded approach if growth is to occur. That requires a flexible workplace and the right technology to make that a reality.

Consider macro-trends in the global workforce, for example, baby boomers are making way for millennials and Generation Z, who have a whole new set of needs and expectations.

Growing up in the tech-integrated world, the younger cohort is hard-wired for getting things done on the move and this has altered the parameters of traditional working life beyond recognition.

So, what does your business need to do to unify your workplace and energize your employees? Here are three things to put into practice.

1) Create a flexible working environment

Give your employees the opportunity to work flexibly. If they can’t get into work due to adverse weather, for example, by providing flexible working, they can work from home and your business can stay productive.

Also, going back to the point on Generation Z, it’s understandable that most 17-to-24-year-olds would be more likely to apply for a job with flexible working hours, which means firms that insist on doing things the old-fashioned way risk alienating top talent.

A flexible workplace and mobility are crucial for working parents too. Ernst and Young measured the retention of employers who offered more flexibility for the past decade, and they found that the top 25 percent of teams with the highest levels of flexibility—meaning they can determine where, when, and how the work gets done—have five points better retention than the bottom 25 percent.

Rajesh Agrawal, the deputy mayor of London for Business, said: “Not only do [flexible working practices] make a huge difference to employees’ quality of life, they also enable businesses to better tap into the best pool of talent.”

He touched on some key benefits of a flexible working environment: studies show flexible organizations are happier places, where turnover and absenteeism rates fall. The fundamental reason for this is that employees when trusted and afforded more freedom, take more control. They buy into their roles more and take their productivity more seriously; given more, they give more back.

If your business embraces mobility to the full, you can expect to access the global talent pool to which Rajesh refers: workers who can operate efficiently whether they’re sitting side by side, or collaborate via a video link or business chat application.

2) Use cloud computing

Instead of silos, disjointed workflows and disparate apps, use cloud computing. Your employees will be able to access a single system holding all the information they need and that updates in real time.

As everything is safely stored online, staff can operate with full mobility to get a better employee experience and have the collaborative tools they need to work smarter. The result? A happier, more engaged team that achieves more.

Executives will also benefit with the use of cloud computing – your boardroom meetings, for example, can be held anywhere and even across different time zones, with everyone having access to real-time data.

It also opens doors to flexible working too – employees can carry out tasks and keep up with progress updates without fear of missing something if they’re working out of the office.

And cloud computing signals the end of printouts of company data. Instead, you can replace them with up-to-date information on all operations, which are viewable via one dashboard from any device, including a mobile phone or tablet.

3) Try accounting software

Growing a business can be challenging but it’s also an exciting time. As a leader at your firm, you’ll want to want to stay creative and expand your client base without having to worry about how efficiently the business is running.

However, if you and your team are spending time addressing admin problems, cash flow issues, dwindling inventory levels and unpaid invoices, then you’ll lose out on looking after your customers. Essentially, that will impact on the bottom line.

Try using accounting software to manage your financial admin. You can keep up with real-time expectations that your business is facing. With it, you can manage accounts and have access to fresh, critical data so you can make the best decisions as opportunities unfold.

Below deck, life is kept equally vital through automation tools that take the repetitive data entry burden off departments such as HR, so your employees can engage with more complex tasks.

It’s about unifying your resources, enabling your employees to work smarter and more reliably, and giving you the time and the peace of mind to do what you do best.

Is your business a flexible workplace?  And what methods are you using to bring your employees together and make your firm more productive? Let us know in the comments below.

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