Flexible Working – the new normal
Blog // 24-03-2020

Flexible Working – the new normal

by Mark Dewell, Managing Director - Public, Private & Third Sector

Market disruption has put the ever increasing need for flexible working firmly into the spotlight. Already, more than 36% of the US workforce are freelancers, but this is expected to increase to more than 50% in only the next seven years, out of desire for flexibility and autonomy. Home working is becoming even more prevalent than before. In an increasingly uncertain global business landscape, organisations cannot afford to be isolated and stopped from functioning in the face of adversity if they are to avoid major disruption. It’s not clear however whether businesses are currently equipped to react.

Our Annual Trends Survey 2019/20 found that only 47% of business leaders say their company’s software gives them the right tools to do their job effectively. This number will only lower if offices are forced to temporarily close and employees forced to stay at home, unable to connect to their on-premise solutions. Newer Cloud-based HR software can remedy at least some of the challenges businesses immediately face, and also facilitate longer term HR strategy changes that will be borne out of today’s crises.

As a result of the worldwide disruption, we may start to see a flexible working revolution, where working remotely for at least part of the working week becomes the norm. Flexible and remote working is already becoming increasingly important to working life; a recent HPE Aruba report found that 39% of employees now identify mobile working as the single most important factor in whether they are satisfied with their jobs. In the longer term, implementing the tools that can facilitate this revolution will be key not just to retaining top talent, but all talent. As employee expectations and demands change, particularly with the introduction of Generation Z, organisations will need to react to stay relevant in the battle for talent. Current events may kick-start that flexible working revolution sooner than expected, and force organisations to permanently adopt flexible working policies. Organisations may come to realise that some groups of employees can work just as productively at home as they could in the office. Supporting these workers with Cloud tech will be vital.

Supporting this - 71% of HR leaders we surveyed with People Management Magazine in our HR Technology Report thought that Cloud technology will change HR in the near future. This number is only increasing. Cloud technology provides employees with the option to work flexibly, and with workforce expectation increasingly dictating that the technology we use at work is just as accessible as the technology we use at home, HR teams are already investing in the Cloud. The need to stay online and connected through Cloud technology will be felt more acutely by businesses the longer this situation develops. Our own HR team have already proactively reacted to the outbreak through its flexible HR solution. Building out a new workflow that automates the logging of self-isolation days could save both the HR team and wider workforce a good deal of time wasted in going back and forth on policy and the time spent processing this new kind of absence. Building this workflow will also be hugely important for reporting purposes – giving the HR team a clear view of who has self-isolated and when, at the click of the button. This will ensure that the productivity of the HR team will not be majorly hampered, and is evidence of how, with the right agile tools, HR teams can react to sudden and significant challenges effectively. Other HR teams will need to demonstrate the same agility if they are to successfully navigate the short term without major disruption.

So what are HR teams doing to mitigate the impacts of this disruption now? On average, an organisations reviews its IT software and services every 17 months. This timescale will only shorten with widespread business adversity. Proactive HR and IT leaders will already be looking at whether their current technology systems will support them to survive.  93% of business bosses think the most important attributes in a business leader is acting with pace, and the onus is now on these leaders to demonstrate these behaviours and not only show that they are prepared to act decisively to ensure business survival in the short term, but also ready to keep in step with the flexible working revolution that is soon to follow. Investing in Cloud-based HR software should be a high priority for all businesses who want to act effectively in trying times, and successfully adapt to the new normal of flexible working. Are you ready to accommodate the new normal?

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Mark Dewell

Mark Dewell

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Managing Director - Public, Private & Third Sector

Mark brings a track record of success in senior leadership positions in the software sector. Mark is renowned for ensuring customers benefit from connected technology solutions.

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