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Nigel Wright, managing director of Converge Technology Specialists: Flexible working, a question of hard cash

There’s been a great deal of discussion about the benefits of flexible working: better work life balance, the ability to serve a wider network of customers, and the means to support a more mobile workforce. But when it comes to companies and their adoption, it comes down to one thing. It’s all about hard cash.

It’s worth looking at what people actually mean when they talk about “agile working”, “smart working” or whatever else they might call it. Too many companies pay it lip service and assume that it’s instructing people they may work from home on Friday, or indeed that they are obliged to do so.

This isn’t agile, it’s simply instructing people what to do but telling them they can do it in a different place once a week. It’s counterproductive because the shape of the workplace is changing. We’re noticing that particularly as a business serving the law firm environment; an incoming generation has very different expectations of an office than the fortysomethings might have had on entering it.

They expect to be able to work in the field and from wherever they want or need to, in a secure and compliant manner. They expect all of this when they arrive at their new workplace. If your company can’t keep up, they won’t work for you for long.

Actually this is a good thing for many organisations. There is a lot of help available from people like us, and the cost benefits start to stack up immediately. If widening the pool of talent from which you can draw by bringing your workplace up to date isn’t enough, then consider the other elements. Hot desking and a workforce that isn’t always in the office lessen the requirement for expensive buildings.

To make this new environment work you need the right technology in place. Hosted systems enable your colleagues to log onto them from anywhere and they can scale up or down very quickly to meet your needs. You will pay only for what you use rather than for a load of technology that takes up space and is used only occasionally. Better still, it appears on OpEx rather than CapEx on the bottom line. Financial people love that.

The good news is that agile working really is based on hard cash. The productivity, the work/life balance, the general happiness of the workforce that appears, are all a byproduct of saving money. And this really is good news because hard cash savings means it’s sustainable. Nobody is going to run out of steam, nobody is going to lose interest because they will be able to see the benefits, in real time.


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