September sees the return to school for more than 8 million children in England alone and naturally many parents will begin to feel the familiar strain of juggling school and work hours. In response to the pressure of ensuring a balance between parental and work commitments, the government extended legislation allowing parents with children up to 16 years of age to request part-time employment.
This legislation comes into effect in April 2009 and will mean that an additional 4.5 million employees will gain to the ability to request flexible working (backed by legislation) in addition to the current 6.25 million. The onus on businesses to adopt strategies to support this has never been greater.
UK companies are understandably concerned about the impact this will have on business, at a time when they are already feeling vulnerable due to economic pressures. With the rising cost of living forcing families to tighten their belts, working part-time and the impact this can have on salaries may not be a viable option for many parents.
Businesses need to take steps to make sure that both they and their employees benefit from the legislation. Enabling employees to work from home is a key way of ensuring this. The early implementation of technologies which facilitate home working is crucial to ensuring that the legislation benefits, rather than hinders, business.
Matt Cantwell from THUS comments ‘Employees are a company’s most valuable asset, so it essential that businesses comply with government regulation and implement policies which benefit their staff, but at the same time benefit business. Providing technology which enables employees to work from home is one way of doing this and these days there is a raft of technologies available which support this, including Voice over IP (VoIP), Instant Messaging (IM), and mobile broadband. THUS has conducted research on the need for flexible working in business and found that 70% of employees consider the option of flexible working a ‘deal breaker’ when looking for a new job. With flexible working increasingly on the agenda, businesses need to be aware of these benefits and implement strategies to effectively support flexible working.’
10 top tips to make remote working work for business:
The best approach to employing a remote workforce is a combination of the latest technology with an ongoing training campaign aimed at raising staff awareness. For those businesses considering the adoption of a remote working policy some tips to consider are:
1. Recognising the importance of regular communication with all members of the remote team
2. Planning regular face-to-face time, so everybody in the team can interact and exchange views
3. Setting clearly defined objectives for individual team members, so people know exactly what they have to do and why
4. Ensuring all employees have access to the resources they need to work remotely
5. Implementing clear policies and guidelines to ensure there is practical help and support for employees working remotely
6. Organising a trial remote working period, so people can let their employees know about any issues that may arise
7. Rewarding employees for good work, so that staff can see clearly that the organisation values them
8. Understanding and supporting staff during any period of adjustment which may be necessary, so that they can adopt this new way of working
9. Applying flexibility in how you manage staff, so that people know that you will take into account different individual abilities and working needs
10 Managing inter-relationships with other teams within the organisation, so your individual team members are able to achieve their personal targets