The countdown is on for to a new law that comes into effect at the end of June, giving employees the right to request flexible working. David Sturges, Chief Commercial Officer of WorkPlaceLive, a provider of cloud-based Hosted Desktop Services in the UK, looks at how ‘the cloud’ can help businesses implement flexible working practices.
At the end of this month a new law comes into effect that will allow workers with six months continuous service the right to request to work flexible, one of the biggest steps forward in working conditions for years. However, it seems many UK companies are completely unaware of this new law and how it might affect their business.
Research by online career portal Jobsite released earlier this month revealed that 53% of British businesses are still unaware of the forthcoming changes, as well as over three quarters of employees who do not realise that they could now ask for flexible working. The same report however revealed one in three people of the UK workforce (35%) already cite flexible working as the most important employer attribute, and two thirds (66%) would request it given the opportunity to do so.
Unfortunately many employers are not prepared for the realities of offering flexible working, and as the Jobsite report found almost a third (29%) are worried that they will be understaffed due to flexible working and almost a quarter (23%) are worried they will not be able to fulfil employees’ requests – which could include requests for part-time working, flexi-time and job sharing, compressed hours and working from home or remotely.
One solution companies could consider to enable them to implement flexible working is ‘cloud computing’. The ability to offer remote working has been made possible over the last decade because of technological innovations such as cloud computing and the ubiquitous use of mobile devices, which has in part fuelled the trend for flexible working patterns. Workers no longer need to be office bound and with the right set-up can effectively work from anywhere in the world.
A growing number of organisations are starting to embrace cloud computing to improve their IT usage, reduce administration time and enable their staff to work flexibly and remotely. One good option for charities is moving to a privately managed cloud computing service, such as a Desktop as a Service, (DaaS), often referred to as a Hosted Desktop Service.
This involves an organisation’s IT infrastructure and data being outsourced a Hosted Desktop provider who will professionally manage it in a UK datacentre protected by corporate grade firewalls. They deliver the IT as a service to users over the internet on a low monthly per user cost. All the latest software and security updates are provided which reduces software and licensing costs and all data security backups are managed by the provider. There is no longer the need for servers in the office or for any IT administration – saving time and money.
Using Hosted Desktops employees can log on to their own desktops and their entire suite of software applications – from their CRM database, fundraising packages to their accounting packages, as well as their emails – from any location, using any internet-ready device. Wherever employees go, their office goes with them, allowing them to work seamlessly and productively on the move.
Apart from allowing companies to implement flexible working there are other major benefits of Hosted Desktops, such as cost savings and increased productivity. Most people are surprised at the actual cost of provisioning IT – according to analysts including Gartner it costs around £1500 – £2000 per person every year to supply licences and to manage and support a fixed desktop.
Implementing a Hosted Desktop strategy can reduce this cost to less than £1000 per year, typically saving organisations between 30% – 50% from their IT budgets over a four year period (the lifetime of a typical server).
Many businesses worry that offering flexible working can mean that productivity is affected; however this is rarely the case. Cloud computing can increase workforce productivity by up to 20%, according to research from Pixmania, “Staff work two hours more per day if working on mobile devices” and YouGov research highlighted 50% of people felt being able to work flexibility actually increased their productivity.
Hosted Desktops enable seamless remote working from any location, which ensures high productivity levels and can enable companies to reduce overheads, offer flexible working and keep their staff happy. As long as companies have procedures and systems in place to ensure productivity doesn’t decline – for most it could mean their employees become more productive and happier.