Workers nationwide will be switching off their emails on Friday 6th February in support of Samaritans’ national fundraising initiative Stress Down Day (http://www.stressdownday.org), with celebrities Ruby Wax, The Hoosiers, Graham Norton and Ainsley Harriott supporting the campaign. However, business telephony supplier Aastra says that employers should be encouraged to do much more to offer stressed employees work life balance including giving them the option to avoid the commute and work from home.
A long daily commute and the associated stresses can add another layer of pressure and anxiety to employees lives. Michael Calvert, General Manager for Aastra in the UK, said: “Commuting can be highly stressful for employees and employers need to ensure they’re being mindful of their staff’s emotional well-being. Introducing a flexible working policy and ensuring employees have the tools to enable them to work from home should be a high priority for companies across all sectors and regions of the UK. Today it’s very easy and cost-effective for businesses to put the technology in place to re-route calls and emails to home offices, giving employees the ability to avoid that stressful commute, improve their green credentials and gain a couple of extra hours of personal time each day.”
Currently, just 12 per cent of the UK population works remotely, a figure which Aastra believes needs to change rapidly. By developing working policies to enable more home working, companies who embrace work/life balance could potentially see improved morale, a higher commitment to the company, lower office costs and benefit from stronger retention of their staff. Offering flexible working can also make a real difference for parents returning to work after having a child or for employees with disabilities.
Aastra, which provides telephony systems as well as IP deskphones, softphones and integrated mobility for business, practices what it preaches. Up to 75 per cent of its UK staff is able to work remotely, one of whom is business development manager, Mike Ballantine, who predominantly works from his home in Somerset and visits the company’s office in Farnborough, Hampshire, once or twice a week.
“There’s no question that being able to work remotely has enabled me to manage my time, work commitments with my demanding job, and my personal life more easily,” he said. “Aastra has provided staff with the technology, such as mobile phones with all the most useful features of a deskphone, to easily work whilst on the move. Meanwhile, home office workers can use deskphones or in my case a softphone to make and receive calls from my laptop. I feel very privileged that I’m able to avoid what could be a very stressful commute, and reduce my carbon footprint, and also get back some hours of personal time which otherwise would have been spent driving to and from work.”