Flexible Working: Why Coronavirus Planning Could Help Your Business Cut Long Term Overheads

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From hourly news alerts on our phones to blanket radio and broadcast coverage, there is no escaping the potential impact of the coronavirus.

Many of you reading this may be working in an office scrabbling to respond to the issue, and some of you may already be working remotely. The coronavirus pandemic itself has undoubtedly placed a spotlight on flexible working arrangements and business continuity.

Being prepared to move to a flexible working model for office-based businesses is one thing but doing so in a time frame of a few weeks or even days is another. For many companies, flexible working has previously been driven by the employee’s demand for greater flexibility around working hours and location. Now a flexible working arrangement has become a necessity.

Fear not. While a concern for many companies, the need for self-isolation amid the coronavirus outbreak has presented an opportunity for businesses to take stock of their employees and IT infrastructure and their physical real estate to identify opportunities to improve agility and overheads.

In this post, Cloudbooking has outlined five steps on the business continuity check-list to help businesses prepare flexible working for the important months ahead:

What Is Meant by Flexible Working?

Flexible working is a concept that takes aspects of remote working and flexible work schedules and combines them to offer employees greater flexibility. Although this concept is not new, it has become far more common since the coronavirus pandemic and now looks here to stay.

Flexible working arrangements give employees the freedom to choose where they would like to work and at the times that suit them, helping them to achieve the optimum work-life balance. For example, flexible workers can adjust their arrangements to cater for their personal commitments, such as the difficulties of caring for school-age children during school holidays. However, office spaces will still be available to flexible employees and provide a space where team and client meetings and other business interactions can occur.

How to Prepare Your Workplace Strategy for Flexible Working

Define a Business Action Plan

You’ll need to be prepared. Thanks to the vaccine rollout and easing of national lockdowns, staff are starting to return to offices. It is likely that many staff who have become accustomed to and prefer flexible working options will request flexible working arrangements to continue. For those businesses that are committing to flexible work arrangements, it is vital to have a clear business action plan.

An action plan will define how you will operate and will inform employees what is expected of them. This is particularly important when transitioning to a flexible working arrangement as employees will have less direction and be expected to show initiative and produce measurable results.

Identify Essential Staff

Make sure they can work remotely — consider a gradual rollout of flexible working in the interim to test out any potential issues before it is mandated. This will allow you to see which staff are essential to your processes and develop an idea of what positions need to be filled to assist with a smooth transition.

The hiring process for flexible staff is also going to be more important than ever before. The interview process should ensure that applicants fit into your company culture and can handle flexible working arrangements

Review Flexible Working Policies

Are they up to date? Do they clearly communicate business expectations of employees during work hours while working remotely?

These policies are hugely important to ensure the success of the transition. Once these flexible working policies have been reviewed, they should be incorporated into the staff training to ensure that employees know what is expected of them.

Provide the Right Equipment

Do all employees have the right equipment to work from home? Think laptops, access to the network, VoIP telephone services, and potentially printers — and possibly other unique software, depending on each role.

It is essential to understand that as roles become more flexible, the need for equipment changes. Each employee will need new and fully functioning equipment and software to carry out their job from locations other than the office.

The flexible office itself can be optimised for flexible working arrangements. Cloudbooking offers a range of services, including meeting room booking and visitor management systems which will help make your transition smoother.

Join Up Your Communication

Are your employees already using communication tools to aid collaborative working while in isolation? If not, we would highly recommend using tools such as Microsoft Teams that already comes with any Office 365 business license to enable employees to communicate efficiently and schedule video calls. Such tools will prevent employees from becoming isolated and are paramount in keeping everyone in sync, thus increasing employee satisfaction and productivity.

Cutting Overheads

While very worrying, pandemics such as coronavirus can present businesses with an opportunity to streamline working processes and even save money. Office usage can be minimised and utilities turned off to reduce overheads. By moving to a flexible working model, Cloudbooking clients have successfully identified how their current commercial property is used through meeting room and desk sensors and how it can be optimised even further.

For some, moving to hot-desking, enabling remote working or reducing the size of meeting rooms to create more flexible workspaces has made many realise that additional real estate is not required. As a result, despite growing employee numbers, some have even been able to reduce real-estate overheads.

As our business community navigates its way through this trying time, follow the Cloudbooking blog for a series of flexible working blogs over the coming weeks, which will explore how to maintain a cohesive business culture with dispersed and remote working teams. Make your office fit for flexible working.

Find out more about Cloudbooking’s agile, flexible workplace solutions as you prepare your business for the future.

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