Work Productivity

How flexible working can increase staff morale

Flexible working practices have become a key element in attracting and retaining talent. In a globalised economy, geographical boundaries are no longer an obstacle to bringing together professionals of all disciplines to form competitive and world-beating teams. In practical terms alone, giving workers greater freedom to manage their own timetables overcomes the hurdles formerly imposed on hiring remote staff by international time differences and datelines.

But beyond this, a degree of flexibility in the working environment has physical, operational, and emotional benefits which can go a long way in promoting loyalty to the organisation and increasing staff morale. We’ll look at some of those benefits, now.

Optimising Time Spent in Various Locations

Empowering your staff to perform to their strengths involves enabling them to nurture and inhabit an environment that’s most conducive to producing their best work.

For some, this might mean sitting in an office cubicle. But for others, peak performance and focus on the task at hand might be achieved in any number of alternate settings: on a train, at home, or seated on a bench in a public park.

Knowing that management is willing to allow flexible working and provide freedom from traditional office or workshop confines gives employees the confidence to structure their time in an optimal environment of their choice – and they’ll be much more likely to enjoy their work, and produce better output as a result.

Having access to corporate resources from any location is a must, for working arrangements like this. Mobile apps, virtual phone systems and access to a network like Swytch (which allows clients to assign UK-registered business numbers to personal phones and mobile devices) are the kinds of options that can make this possible.

Giving Autonomy to the Flexible

Just as different workers have unique preferences as to the kind of environment they feel most comfortable and productive in, so too do different personality types cope with a structured timetable and job roster in different ways.

An assessment and knowledge of the skills and personality traits of your employees will assist you in identifying which of your staff are best able to cope with a greater or lesser degree of autonomy, and which ones benefit from a more directed, “hands-on management” approach.

Wherever possible, it’s a good idea to give all of your workers some degree of freedom in determining how they structure their time and how they approach the jobs they’re assigned. A feeling of autonomy lends workers a sense of empowerment – secure in the knowledge that they’re trusted with some responsibility for their own career path, and able to take ownership of their work, rather than having the job ruling them.

Teams & Substitute Players

Flexible working need not be an individual affair. In fact, many businesses gain by introducing a group dynamic into their flexible working practices.

For example, in a development project that’s being conducted by a team, it makes sense to rotate duties and responsibilities among the team members, so that work on the project may continue if someone requires a break, has a commitment to honour, or simply has skills that can be duplicated or added to by someone else in the group.

And with the dominance of international business and the 24/7 consumer culture, allowing workers living in different time zones to take over job responsibilities at certain hours of the day is a great way of simultaneously ensuring business availability, and relieving the psychological and physical burden on staff members who would otherwise be required to put in extra hours.

Mentors & Protégés

Setting up two-person teams consisting of a senior or more experienced staff member and someone newer to the organisation can reap benefits both for the enterprise and the individuals concerned.

The younger staff member gains the mentorship and guidance of someone further along the career path – in addition to a sense of empowerment and responsibility, on those occasions when they’re called upon to stand in for the senior staff member.

Employees in the mentor’s role are able to create more time for themselves by delegating tasks and responsibilities to their junior. They’ll also be playing a part in the nurturing of new talent for the enterprise.

Technology as an Additional Resource

The management of human resources is just one part of a flexible working environment. Resources, infrastructure, and technology available to the enterprise may also be called upon to free up time for your workers, and to enable them to do their jobs more effectively. In workplaces where numerous repetitive tasks are the norm, using machinery and software for automation is one way of achieving this.

Information Technology and telecommunications resources are another. Tools for video conferencing, instant messaging, document sharing and collaboration – especially those with mobile app versions – can keep remote and home-based workers in touch with each other, and able to trade ideas, tasks and (if necessary) working hours.

Platforms like the Swytch network can give businesses and their workers a continuous presence in regional and international markets – while simultaneously empowering workers to devote more time to their lives away from the office.

Making Sound Economic Sense

Finally, there’s a solid economic foundation for the adoption of more flexible working practices. Reasons underlying this include:

  • By having fewer workers based on your business premises, you’ll reduce the need for expensive office space and equipment
  • With a staff including workers in various localities and time zones, you’ll actually increase the number of hours that you’re available each day – without having to impose long hours on your employees
  • Reduced working hours have been proven to have a beneficial effect on physical and emotional health – which reflects in a happier, more productive and loyal workforce
  • Being known as an organisation with flexibility written into its DNA makes your business an attractor for high-quality talent from across the globe

That’s why flexi-time, job sharing, condensed weeks and other flexible working practices are reaping dividends for enterprises which engage in them – both in monetary terms, and in their capacity to promote job satisfaction and increase staff morale.

To prepare your staff for flexible working, give them greater control and the ability to stay connected with a Swytch business account. Get in touch with Swytch today to find out more.

How decluttering your desk can increase work productivity

There have been many articles written about how technology and automation can help individuals or organisations to increase work productivity. But one of the most effective methods of doing so actually involves no machinery, at all. And it’s one of the easiest things that you can do: decluttering your desk, and rationalising your work space.

Here are some ideas and recommendations on doing just that.

Different Strokes For Different Folks

Of course, clutter and organisation mean different things to different people – and in terms of increasing productivity and focus at work, different personality types may thrive in different environments.

People in the so-called “creative” professions – artists, photographers, designers, architects, writers – may appreciate a certain amount of disorganisation in their work spaces. The objects we acquire and retain have associations for us – memories and emotional responses that may be triggered by the sight or absence of them.

For creatives, these kinds of stimuli can spark new ideas. So it’s often helpful to be surrounded by objects, images, and sounds that may contribute positively to the task at hand.

But for those in the more “rational-thinking” professions, a chaotic and over-populated workspace may have the opposite effect, and detract from rather than increase work productivity.

And even for those who benefit from a degree of messiness in their working environment, there’s a fine line to maintain between inspiring disorganisation and chaos.

How Others See It

As a professional, the condition of your working environment doesn’t only influence your productivity at work and increase job satisfaction – it creates an impression on the people you have to deal with on a day to day basis.

From fellow workers to visiting clients, the message you convey by having a cluttered and disorganised desk or office has an impact on how easy it is that they find you to work with – and how competent and professional they perceive you to be.

Time For A Clean Up?

As a simple test, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I find it easy to meet essential deadlines for my work?
  • Do I find it easy to complete my projects – or do I always seem to be juggling several tasks, without resolution on any of them?
  • Do distractions and mess in my working environment keep pulling my attention away from the task at hand?

If you’ve answered “Yes” to one or more of the above, it could be time to rationalise your working environment, and increase work productivity, as a result.

Keeping What Works

Knowing what’s essential to increase your work productivity and peace of mind is the first step.

Think about your successful endeavours of the past, and identify the objects and elements of your desk and office environment that helped you to achieve these successes. A certain set of pens, office supplies, documents, or software: these would be the ingredients contributing to your ideal working state – and the items you’ll need to keep, when re-organising your work space.

Slinging Out What Doesn’t

Anything that doesn’t contribute to your ideal mind-set and productive work, can go.

Removal of these items can be a gradual and reversible process. You might begin by moving non-essential or distracting items out of sight to your desk drawers, or consigning them to storage bins, remote shelves, or closets. Work without them for a while, and gauge your level of success. Anything crucial that you may have inadvertently shelved can always be rotated back into service.

Dealing With Technology

If you’re working in a traditional networked corporate environment, you’ll no doubt be familiar with the habitual nightmare array of cables connecting desktop systems, servers, UPS units, routers, printers, and other hardware. These may contribute as much as your personal mess, to the cluttering up of work space.

Even if you’re operating from a personal set-up with a laptop or tablet, you may still have the occasional need to use a printer, scanner, or other peripheral hardware – with the associated desk and office space requirements for cabling and the devices themselves. To eliminate clutter, you should do as their name suggests, and keep these peripheral devices on the periphery using shelves, side tables, and the like.

Corporate environments will benefit from structured cabling systems, which organise logical routes and centralised connectors for office hardware. For home or personal office systems, simple measures like clustering related sets of cables into cut-off sections of plastic piping or stapling them to a peg board can make a huge difference.

Telecommunications equipment like desktop phones and fax machines (who uses those, anyway?) can be rationalised too, in this age of the mobile. A virtual phone system such as that offered by the Swytch network can assign registered business telephone numbers to your personal mobile phone, eliminating the need to buy office telephony hardware. And the cell phone you can just stick in your pocket, out of sight.

Beyond The Physical Desk

The digital realm also enables us to extend our working environment beyond the physical office or desk, in the form of online file storage, email and communications accounts, or entire virtual desktops for software and data handling. It’s a good idea to declutter these virtual spaces, too.

The mobile apps associated with a virtual phone system like Swytch can help you automatically create a logical distinction between personal and business accounts and related files, including Inboxes and voicemail.

Do regular clean-ups of the files and folders on your personal hardware and in your various accounts (email, cloud storage, etc.). Create logical categories to organise your data for easy retrieval and use. And cut out the non-essential software – including all those nifty mobile apps you downloaded, but never use.

Optimising Your Time

Once you’ve got into the habit of organising your work spaces, decluttering your physical and virtual desks can be reduced to a matter of minutes per day. This will create valuable time, which may be spent on more important issues. And the resulting clarity and neatness of your work environment will promote peace of mind, and greatly increase work productivity.