During the last three decades the way we work and live has changed beyond recognition. Our grandfathers (and rather fewer of our grandmothers) worked in a job for life, climbed their way up through a company’s ranks and often kept regular 9-5.30 hours. By contrast, today’s workers are expected to negotiate changing circumstances and new challenges throughout their careers.
How we work reflects and informs how we live. Your employees’ work lives form just one part of their life experience. Childcare, the responsibility of elderly relatives, pregnancy, illness, leisure, education... all these factors and infinite others combine with employment to create an overall life experience, for better or worse. And, of course, within the work environment itself things have also changed dramatically. The days of addressing your workmates as Mr. and Mrs. and wearing a tie to the office are all but gone. Longer hours and a less formal working culture have provided more opportunity for colleagues to socialise. Self-development in the form of training has increased as individuals are required to perform more multi-faceted roles. Diversity has become a valued asset... It’s a different world.
Changes like these are inevitable, constant and should be embraced. That’s why it’s always worth stepping back to consider how they may impact on your business and how you might manage them to your advantage. By taking a closer look at how to create a better working life for your people, you can improve their health, decrease stress levels, and provide your employees with a greater sense of being valued and of having their talent nurtured. It might be a relatively small project like a bike-to-work scheme, or a more committed move towards better pensions or more flexible hours: however you engage your people and improve the way work fits into their life experience can only benefit your business in the long-term.
Progressive employers have long recognised that the best, most productive members of staff aren’t necessarily tied to the office. By allowing individuals time to work remotely, to set up meetings in different cities, to take business to the clients, companies are energising the workforce. This new sense of freedom and personal responsibility has been made possible by technology. Over the last 20 years, the number of employees in the UK ‘telecommuting’ – using technology to work remotely – has doubled, according to Census figures.
The internet represents the single largest factor in changing how, and where, we work but other technologies have also had significant impact when it comes to getting us on the move. Tele-conferencing, video-conferencing, mobile phones, email and instant messaging all give us the freedom to take our work anywhere. It’s no longer necessary for us to be together to work together – a concept that has radically altered the notion of a set ‘place of work.’ Until recently, business software was one of the few areas of work life that was strictly office-based. There is a wide range of new and innovative ways for employees to work remotely, covering more than the obvious email, CRM and web access. Sage, for example, has introduced a new app that enables access to Sage 50 Accounts 2012, wherever you are. Sage 50 Accounts Mobile www.sage.co.uk/sage50mobile harnesses the power of the web to enable you and your employees to view cash flow, customer and supplier details, reports and much more in real time. The app is simple to set up, free and whether you’re a financial director looking for quarterly figures or a manager generating a weekly sales report it’s invaluable when you’re on the go.
Dynamic, forward-thinking businesses address cultural and technological progress as a matter of course. A business adaptable enough to work change to its advantage, harnessing new ideas to invest in happier, more productive employees, is a business primed for success.