ShoreTel Helps Flexible Working Work for You

    The recent introduction of flexible working legislation in the UK is challenging businesses of all sizes to take a fresh look at the processes and systems they have in place as they implement plans to meet potential employee demands. Flexible working is a catch-all term to describe any working pattern that is adapted to suit the needs of the employee. Common types of flexible working include part-time or flexi-time working through annualised, compressed or staggered hours, job sharing, or homeworking.

    The need to support the efficient operations of a flexible workforce represents real challenges to IT departments. When earlier flexible working legislation came into effect in 2003, a survey commissioned by workplace flexibility specialists John Blackwell Associates Ltd (JBA) found that one third of companies experienced unsustainable costs from making requisite changes to working procedures, and an overwhelming amount of respondents (78 percent) anticipated significant forthcoming expenditures, particularly in the area of information and communications technology, to support flexible workplace practices.

    At the same time, industry experts are also pointing to the advantages of a flexible workforce in today’s mobile society. Not only can businesses take advantage of workers with particular skills and expertise in different regions, but the ability to work flexible hours can help improve employee morale, resulting in a reduction of staff turnover, absenteeism and overtime. Many businesses are also embracing flexible working hours as part of a broader green initiative, since homeworking can reduce office space requirement, and commuter congestion. Clearly then, it is imperative that businesses realize these benefits and meet the legislative requirements without compromising productivity.

    As UK businesses react to the implications of this legislation, there are lessons they can learn from companies in Europe who are already embracing flexible working practices. ShoreTel’s customers such as the Belgian document outsourcing company Speos have already benefited from reduced costs, improved efficiency and flexibility offered by pure VoIP telephony. Speos has deployed ShoreTel’s UC system to facilitate flexible working spaces as calls are efficiently routed to employees regardless of location. Speos also eliminated a significant proportion of communications costs as calls are now made via a data link.

    Based on the real world experiences of organisations that have already deployed unified communications (UC), it is clear that UC is ideal for bridging geographic divides effectively with a single image IP-based communications system. The simple deployment and centralised Web browser-based management, combined with the user productivity gains from being able to manage your own communications profile, takes flexible working to a new level.

    From flexibility in work/life balance to flexibility in how businesses and employees communicate, ‘flexible working’ must be a core value of every competitive and successful business.