Flexible working in the UK has become a phenomenon. More and more workers are able to work from remote locations instead of coming into an office, such as in the comfort of their own home. Even with more of a will to implement flexible working, only 60% of businesses in the country have flexible work in place.
And there’s still a big demand for flexible working. One in four office workers want the chance to have flexible schedules.
Video conference solutions are paving the way to flexible working. Here are some of the reasons why this is the case.
The Trend in Remote Working
Polycom Incorporated conducted an independent study into remote working. They interviewed 1,000 UK professionals in a number of different industries. They discovered there are heightened expectations related to how work should conform to their lifestyles. This is as a direct result of enhanced technologies.
The study concluded remote working could become the normal way of doing things by the year 2022.
It’s easy to see how this is the case. In the last ten years, the number of people working from home has gone from 21% to 40%. Employers are increasingly allowing parents more flexibility so they can stay with their children. And this is a demand that’s only increasing.
It’s because new technologies are facilitating this. Technology like video conferencing has enabled people to remove telephone calls and face-to-face client meetings from their lives. Now they can communicate and collaborate from entirely different locations.
Mobile computing is another reason why remote working is on the increase. Laptop use has tripled over the last decade. 46% of workers now use a laptop at work. Smartphone use has doubled and tablet devices are now found at one in ten workplaces.
Video conferencing can also be found on these devices. For many employers, they’re worried about the lack of productivity and the lack of tools at home. With so many employees owning tablets and laptops anyway, the potential for allowing flexible working arrangements increase.
Despite video conferencing changing the way we work, Gary Rider, the EMEA president of Polycom, said employers weren’t offering enough flexibility for staff. In many cases, this is because not enough people see the benefits of flexible working. And they have yet to be introduced to technologies like video conferencing.
Deciding to communicate remotely can have big benefits for both businesses and the UK economy as a whole. CBI says £8 billion could be saved on reduced congestion alone if every business employed video conferencing.
Another main benefit is the increase in productivity. Enterprise tools used by small to medium-sized businesses enable collaboration with common tools, such as Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel. These tools make it just as productive, if not more productive, to work at home.
Ease of Installation
Employers who’re resistant to change will become considerably less resistant to change as it gets easier to install video conferencing in their workplaces. All it requires is a camera and a screen. This can already be done with a simple webcam and a laptop.
There are a number of companies offering bespoke solutions for each business. All the company has to do is list their needs and find the provider that can best fulfil these needs. It’s as easy as that, and as it becomes more common the price of installation will go down.
What Effect Will this Have on Business?
In the future when most businesses are using video conferencing technology, it will have a profound effect on businesses across the UK. It will encourage collaboration by largely transcending boundaries. It will no longer be a problem for a company in London to work with a company in Glasgow, for example.
As well as being able to transcend boundaries between businesses, geographical limitations will also be overcome for individual workers. Workers who want to work from home will be able to. The technology already exists for individual customers to work from home. They can hold boardroom meetings from the comfort of their sofas, for example.
In terms of productivity, video conferencing and online collaboration could eliminate the conventional working day. People will have the option of working to a schedule that suits them. For example, some people work better in the mornings than they do in the afternoons. By removing commuting time, these workers will be able to get to work in a matter of minutes.
Saving even a few minutes of time will have major effects. Think about it like this. If an individual worker gained even one minute of productivity every year, this would mean 365 minutes of the working year have been gained. It’s the equivalent of about six hours. Assuming your workplace has ten workers, you have sixty hours of additional work each year.
That’s a huge amount of productivity. Combine this with cost savings and the idea of working remotely through video conferencing instantly becomes more attractive.