How small businesses can achieve greater workplace flexibility

Small businesses must recognise the value of the prevalence of technologies that facilitate greater workplace flexibility, rather than resisting them.

Disruption has heavily impacted the ways in which small businesses and their employees now work. The opportunities encouraged by maturing cloud services and mobile devices mean that more employees can work remotely while communicating in real-time with their colleagues, thus providing better workplace flexibility.

In order to attract and retain the best talent, organisations must be responsive to these changing operating modes. Encouraging greater workplace flexibility and collaboration – with the appropriate technologies and policies in place – is key. The more flexibility and collaboration within an organisation, the more engaged employees will be.

Organisations need to use collaborative technologies, such as cloud-based applications and mobile devices, to help employees work across different time zones, communicate in real-time, and share and work on documents together, from anywhere in the world.

Many employees already use two or more devices to work throughout the day. These may not all be corporate issued. Small businesses must recognise the prevalence of these technologies, rather than resisting them. Many of Fronde’s clients are seeing great benefit in incorporating mobile collaborative technologies into daily operations, supported by the right policies and IT to make sure the devices are used appropriately, to their full capability.

Deloitte and Google’s research on The Collaborative Economy quantifies the value of great workplace collaboration and flexibility. The findings suggest that companies that prioritise collaboration are five times more likely to experience an increase in profit, and twice as likely to be profitable.*

Technology is a key driver for businesses adopting collaborative and flexible work models to improve employee engagement and business performance.

The more the staff feels empowered by their workplace environment and technologies, the less turnover the organisation is likely to experience, and the better its return on employee spend. It’s better for the staff and the bottom line.

To make a collaborative work model successful, particularly in businesses with a large portion of existing legacy IT infrastructure, the messaging and drive for change has to come from the leadership team.

By giving teams a licence to be collaborative, and supporting them with the best technologies, business leaders will see a change occur organically. Organisations are more likely to experience faster adoption rates and business success when the benefits of the technologies are apparent to all levels of the business.

When implementing technologies that facilitate collaboration and workplace flexibility, small businesses should look to engage a service provider that can help with this transition. The provider should work with the organisation to develop best practice policies and IT systems for the collaborative technologies on a case-by-case basis, as a personalised approach to these technologies is likely to promote greater employee engagement and workplace flexibility.

* http://www2.deloitte.com/au/en/pages/economics/articles/collaborative-economy-unlocking-power-of-workplace-crowd.html

Don McLean, Managing Director, Fronde Australia

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