Turning work into fun and enjoyment

Turning work into fun and enjoyment

Whether you call it teleworking, telecommuting, cyber working or flexible work practices – what you’re really talking about is ‘workforce mobility’.

Workforce mobility is the ability of employees to effectively deliver the outcomes and objectives of an employer – in terms of the financial, operational, customer, employee and environmental needs of the business, its customers and staff – without necessarily being restricted to a traditional office. Today, workforce mobility is a business issue, not just a human resources issue, or a facility issue or an IT issue. It was once thought that a successful company should have the biggest, fanciest offices spread across the region. Now, the opposite is true. The question to ask is: “where is the best place for our employees to be in order for them to offer the best service to our clients?”

If the answer is “the office”, that’s fine. You would then look at making sure they had the resources they need to do their job. If it’s not the office, then where do they need to be, to carry out the company’s objectives? And again, what tools would they need to do their job with minimum interruption while assuring maximum quality? The idea is to be flexible and allow staff to be based where they can do their best work – whether it is working from a client site, a cafe, from home or travelling on the road.

With the major cities in India getting increasingly crowded by the day, most of the Indian companies are providing flexible work options to their employees. This cuts down the travel time completely, thus increasing the productivity and achieving the desired results. Presently in India, most of the companies are in the process of introducing flexible work hours to a part of their employee population or for all their employees depending on their specific roles and the type of work assigned to them.

Many roles don’t require people to be in the office every day or all day. Employees may even be able to work more effectively if they are given the option to work from a client site at short notice or make better use of their day, by simply doing-away with unproductive travel time to the office. Often it doesn’t matter what hour of the day work is done, as long as it is done in the required time frame and delivers the required outcome. Such flexibility also provides business continuity options – allowing employees to work from alternate sites if the office is inaccessible for some or the other reason. With the advent of the IT boom, India has seen a flurry of personal computers and internet and a host of major technologies make their way into the Indian work culture.

Workforce mobility has now become a key business variable with multiple layers of benefit. It enables businesses to easily work from client sites, reduce real estate requirements, remove unproductive travel time, reduce carbon emissions and attract a greater diversity of people to the workplace. These are clear financial and operational benefits and for employees it provides greater flexibility to achieve a better work-life balance. Clients benefit from the speed of response and interaction. And if you are a company that sells services, you need your workforce and culture to match what you sell. If you claim innovation, flexibility, agility and responsiveness as part of your service delivery, your work culture should reflect that.

There is no longer any reason why companies should adopt a one-size fits all approach to where and how employees work. It’s certainly easier to set and manage a homogeneous environment but is it the right approach today?  Technology offers numerous options to meet specific business needs.

However, the successful embrace of workforce mobility takes more than setting up a broadband and internet access from home, or handing out Blackberries to employees, it requires planning, commitment, cultural change and leadership.

If you are planning to develop a mobile workforce the challenges will include:

- Trusting employees you cannot physically see at a desk
- Creating a team culture when you don’t see each other every day
- Effective communication among the employees and the employer
- Offering flexibility but also setting boundaries, and
- Objectively assessing which roles and individuals are appropriate for the mobility options

People who are unable to reach their office due to social and geographical constraints can easily work from home or their preferred locations and remain employed with the introduction of various technologies. This way, what really counts is the talent and performance. Flexible working solutions provides improved productivity and performance, increased staff retention, higher morale, increased commitment and loyalty to their work, thus producing the desired outcome and results as per the organization’s requirements.
At Unisys India, we encourage the concept of providing flexible work hours to our employees, especially women. Our aim is to elicit the desired results without compromising on our employees’ comfort. As such, where the employees work does not matter to us at all. What matters is that they are working from a place that offers them optimum conditions to deliver their best work, striving for the best quality. This benefits not only the employees themselves but also the organization in the long run. Ultimately, successful workforce mobility comes down to good planning.

- Envision the culture you want to create – both internally and externally for clients
- Understand which roles in your organisation are suited to teleworking
- Identify the training that needs to be provided to managers
- Work out how to track and measure employee performance
- Determine the technology required and how to provide technical support
- Use your office space wisely to support flexible work patterns and reduce operational costs

Achieving a real advantage from offering telecommuting as an option for employees takes careful planning and a significant amount of work. In many ways, it is the human element, rather than technologies, requiring extra thought and effort.
 
(The writer is Head, HR, Unisys India)

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