New rules have come into force today that allow all employees with 26 weeks or more service to request flexible working conditions, which employers in turn must address in a "reasonable manner".
Until now, you only had the right to request flexible working hours if you had children under 17 (or 18 if they have a disability) or if you cared for an adult dependant.
Flexible working allows employees to work part time, work from home or embrace flexi-time, job sharing and shift working.
A deviation from the 9am-5pm pattern may send employers into a bit of a spin but communication technology can help smooth over some of the bumps in the transition to flexible working.
Unified communications (UC) provides businesses with the opportunity to use converged IT and communications technology to enable flexible working anywhere and at any time.
For example, instant messaging (IM) integrated with user presence facilitates rapid information exchange and real-time decision making to improve your business’s responsiveness. Users can easily check the status of colleagues – available, busy, away, back at work on Tuesday, etc – and can then determine the best way of communicating with them.
IM provides immediate contact with a quick message with colleagues or, indeed, groups of contacts. It is the text equivalent of a real conversation, which means the information exchanged can be highly relevant, concise and effectual. Questions can be answered in a matter of seconds. Important decisions can be made without the need for a face-to-face meeting or protracted email trail.
Presence and IM help to integrate distributed workforces by allowing colleagues to have spontaneous ad hoc interactions wherever they are working. Remote workers will especially benefit from this real-time link to help them feel more connected to their peers in the office while their availability will also be easily identifiable.
Unified messaging enables all message types to be collated in a universal inbox that can then be retrieved by a variety of devices. Voicemails can be saved as emails with sound attachments, with the same process applied to video, SMS and fax messages. This means your employees will only need to go to one place to check for messages, using their PCs, smartphones, laptops or tablets.
In addition, audio or video conferencing can be used as part of a unified communications solution, along with softphones, to provide further flexible communication options.
But having invested in this technology and ensured your employees are happy by allowing them to enjoy more flexible working conditions, are there any benefits to you and your business?
Yes! UC can revolutionise the way you run your business. The benefits of UC start with improved customer satisfaction as your employees will never need to miss a call, email or fax, no matter where they are and messages will be presented in a single inbox to reduce message management time by at least 50% thereby increasing productivity.
If you need advice on UC and how it could help your business and your employees embrace flexible working conditions, please not hesitate to contact us.