Make flexible working work

Flexible working is good for employers, staff and customers alike. Today, effective technology is available to give staff access to the same experience at home as they would have in the office, without sacrificing security or the ability to communicate.

Make flexible working work

Ask around the average office and the one thing everyone will agree on is that flexible working hours creates happy employees. Sharp managers are realising that it can also improve customer service and extend the time your Open' sign is up.

For many, the office is a vital place for meeting colleagues and exchanging ideas. But there are times when it would be cheaper, more convenient and more productive to work somewhere else: on the train between meetings; in the van after a service call; accessing current stock availability at a client's site; or reading e-mails at an Internet cafe. Besides, emergencies do happen: wouldn't it be great to deal with that last-minute proposal from the comfort of your sofa rather than having a late night at the office?

The days of rigid hierarchies in the office and a strict nine- to-five are long gone. Flexible working the ability to work anywhere at any time has potential benefits for everybody. For the employer, it means staff can use otherwise dead' time to do productive work: they can provide more responsive customer service and make better-informed decisions in real time. The company may save on office costs through needing fewer desks, or be able to expand without seeking new premises.

Flexible working is popular with staff, too. Young people in particular have grown up with mobile phones, instant messaging and social networking Web sites, and expect similar flexibility in their job. Research for Microsoft by the Future Laboratory found that, for almost half (48%) of under 25s, the offer of some flexibility in working hours is more appealing than a higher salary.

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