Smart Working and the Loyalty Factor
'When you introduce flexibility to the workplace and allow people to work smarter you can remove some of the constraints and causes of stress ...'
As a full time working mother living in the commuter belt with a family of two young boys and a husband running his own business, I’ve long since learned that flexibility and simplicity are the key to making things work.
But as anybody will tell you, life before and after children are worlds apart in terms of balancing time and workload. Far from being master of your own schedule, the reality soon hits that even the most disciplined and organised among us can’t possibly prepare for all the adjustments that need to be made when you introduce children to the mix.
Schedules clash and have to be co-ordinated, child-care drop offs and collections factored in, traffic to be negotiated and then you need to be ready for the unexpected last minute hiccups that invariably hit us out of left field.
Returning to work after having kids can be a stressful and daunting challenge for many. We place high expectations on ourselves and think we should be able to commit to work exactly as we did before. But in many cases, that’s just not possible and the increased demands we experience can leave us feeling like we are falling short in all areas of our lives.
It can feel like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day and it’s impossible to be everything to everyone. The result is a constant state of stress.
Studies have shown that the biggest gender divide in the workplace occurs when women hit their 30’s and 40’s, in other words, their child bearing years. However when you introduce flexibility to the workplace and allow people to work smarter you can remove some of the constraints and causes of stress that cause these divides.
Vodafone has long since recognised the value of facilitating employees in working flexibly. Six years ago, I returned to the workplace after taking a two year career break following the birth of my second child. From the first day, I was provided with a laptop, mobile phone and remote secure access so I was equipped to work flexibly. I was assured that Vodafone not only facilitates Smart Working but actually advocates it!
With an evening schedule of sports five nights a week in our house along with two full time working parents, time is at a premium. I have changed my working patterns to start at 7:30 in the morning and finish before the evening rush hour commute, so I’m not spending dead time in my car.
My husband gets the kids out to school in the mornings and I get to review homework and get the kids and myself out to our various sports activities in the evening. I work from home on Fridays and am fully equipped to attend conference and Lync calls, work collaboratively with my colleagues on Sharepoint and over email and be as productive as if I were office-based.
My husband runs his own financial advisory firm with a team of five who are all equipped to work in the office or remotely with the benefit of Vodafone mobiles, Onenet Express and mobile data devices. His team is made up of working parents as well as a keen triathlete and Mount Everest mountaineer, all of whom value the flexibility they have in their work life balance.
As a result they are a loyal and productive team and as any small to medium business owner knows, your people are the foundation your business is built upon.
Although we both work in completely different industries, it’s clear to us that the agility smart working brings makes us a productive family team, with complementary and not competing schedules. Neither of us feel we are short-changing our careers, our children’s’ development or our home life and this is gold.
Work will always be there but with Smart Working, you can manage your schedule and still do the things in life that give you personal satisfaction. Vodafone values the whole person, it invests in its people and recognises that trust breeds loyalty.
For me it’s one benefit that I simply couldn’t do without. But it’s not just me – at a recent 30% Club Agile Working Masterclass, several industry experts shared their findings on the subject of Smart Working and all of them pointed resoundingly to benefits such as increased employee engagement, financial return on investment, employee wellness and more frequently employee expectation.
It is no longer a question of ‘why should organisations facilitate Smart Working?’ it needs to be ‘why not?’