Event partner, Polycom on their latest workforce survey
What’s the secret to a company’s success? Everyone repeat after me: the people that power it!
So what can a company do to keep those people happy? While pool tables and Google Campus-style slides are fun, what people actually want is a lot more straightforward: the flexibility to work anywhere. In fact, 34% of workers would take flexible working over a pay rise. But why do so many people feel this way? I spoke to some of my colleagues to find out about their anywhere working experiences.
According to a recent Polycom survey, 68% of the workforce are parents, so it’s about time for our working practices to embrace that fact. For me as a mum, working anywhere has been a complete life saver – it’s meant I’ve been there for every birthday, and even baked the cakes! And it’s a myth that only mums want to work anywhere – so do working dads, like my colleague David Fisher, Polycom’s EMEA Director of Channel Strategy and Programmes.
‘My favourite thing about anywhere working is being able to collect my boys from school,’ he says. ‘It sounds pretty basic but some of the most valuable moments as a parent are seeing them with other children and understanding what they have experienced that day – it makes you feel like you’re a parent, not just a breadwinner.’
Jakub Abramczyk, Polycom’s Sales Director for Eastern Europe, agrees with us: ‘Without flexible working, I would probably not see much of my kids (or my wife!) during the week. But working from home allows me to spend some time with the kids before preschool.”
Securing more quality family time is not the only benefit of anywhere working – flexible working enables better personal health and wellbeing too. Jakub is a keen triathlete and, thanks to anywhere working, he has been able to build his training programme into his routine. ‘In a traditional work environment, the only time you can train is very early morning – then you have to rush to work for 9, only to hit the morning traffic,’ he tells me. ‘Then in the evening, you’re stuck with those same cars on the way back and you’re too tired from a full day to do anything.’
In the UK, the average commuter spends a stressful 98 minutes travelling to and from work. Promoting an anywhere working culture reduces this unnecessary stress. ‘The ability to join video meetings from my home office allows me to optimise my time,’ says Jakub. ‘I can go for a run in the morning, do my first meeting via video at 8, then jump in the car and enjoy a quick, traffic-free ride to the office to continue the day.’
Helping people make time for their health is a business no-brainer. Stress is endemic in this country, 11.7 million working days were lost due to stress-induced bad health last year. With flexible working, it’s easier to schedule in relaxation time – I try to fit in an hour every day to unwind with some yoga or meditation.
It’s clear that working anywhere can open up huge benefits, but without the right technology, it could take a long time for them to percolate down. High-quality video conferencing and other collaboration tools are the bedrock of anywhere working, and enable work that would never have been possible across different offices, countries, or even time zones – my boss is based in the US! Ultimately, it’s about the quality of the work that we produce not where we do it; as David wisely said, ‘Where I am on the planet is irrelevant.’