Of all the benefits of home working, to me the greatest is the ability to retain skilled people in the business. We need to empower people away from the workplace. The loss to professional offices of qualified solicitors, accountants, doctors and many more at certain times in life – for example women after childbirth – costs firms dear. Homeworking is a big part of the answer and worthy of much more than shrug.
On the face of it this reasoning should powerfully drive customers to us to change – but it isn’t, is it? I still ask “Why?” – Unlike many small boys I’ve never lost the need to know as I grow up. Now in my early fifties, working mostly from home since 1989, I just had to know why so few get the appeal of the wireless laptop next to the Jacuzzi, or in Spain; freedom from wasted time and cost every rush hour; meeting in hotels and cafes on our increasingly cosmopolitan High Streets or sporting venues; a chance to carry out thinking tasks whilst mowing the lawn; watching the dawn and the day develop from your desk if the baby drags you out of bed at 4am, then falling asleep by her cot for a couple of hours in the middle of the day.
At a base level customers expect technologically advanced, quick, remote fixes to telephone line or broadband faults instead of waiting for an engineer, but haven’t appreciated that what delivers this could be harnessed appropriately.
Despite home working delivering benefits, why then is home or remote working a pariah and VoIP selling for little more than office to office cheap or free calls on SIP trunks?
I asked more and more people, listened to their answers and read their publications. Large organisations focus on the challenge of home working targets proving difficult to achieve. One report included a comment about ‘assessing the individual’s suitability for homeworking.
Three key areas impact on a successful transition to home working:
Management – Questions of status, control and support need to be answered.
The Individual – Work discipline, Impact on home space, communications and ‘loneliness’.
Technology – Systems to make working at home more effective to the home worker and employer than an office base.
Managers talk of lack of trust in their staff when they are out of their sight. Individuals worry about their personal motivation and loss of the photocopier chats about soccer or the latest office gossip. When you stand beside individuals and managers and look at this from their perspective, it is almost unsurprising how few people take up, or are allowed to take up the opportunity to work away from an office.
It’s taken time for this penny to drop – Government targets of 3% year on year improvements in our environment be hanged – the reality is we like our offices! When people lower their politically correct guard, individuals and managers as individuals clearly state the case. They LOVE their offices!
Worse, customers express a clear love of what they know about the office of the eighties they still inhabit, but show no knowledge or interest in modern, simple tools in our remote working technology that can help improve their business profitability and make life better for individuals and individuals as managers.
Our technology is too fast-changing to be ‘simple’. Whilst many in our industry embrace new technology like VoIP we do so in such very different ways, but to our customers it is all too complicated. For others in our industry who don’t yet want to join the latest revolution, it’s a sharp intake of breath and “You’re brave”. So customers don’t yet know which technologies to trust. Result – they resist investing learning time in any of it.
The last three months has seen significant changes in technology as pretty much universal cheap broadband is here and accepted and every vendor is offering credible VoIP. I have been working on this with Mike Court, who heads up Conexus, an international management development consultancy based in Droitwich, whose clients include BT, O2, Hoover and KPMG. This has led us to believe that we have developed a very interesting approach to overcome an individual’s reluctance to deal with homeworking issues.
Mike and I propose working in the space between the management plan (or lack of it) and target for homeworking and the reality of resistance to it, to understand the problems. One tool we shall propose is a series of suitably prepared Conexus, advanced, interactive, web-based questionnaires, to take the proposals to a personal level and at significantly lower costs than individual interviews. The programme will help managers look at their personal benefits and help the individual to become a manager of their homeworking.
Many businesses in the telecoms industry are big enough to benefit from this programme directly. The experience will empower your sales teams to understand when to push us in ahead of you to help your customer management teams get to grips with home working benefits. From that their plan include the need for the industry’s technology and they will be increasingly likely to buy it from you.
Benefits Of Working From Home
The benefits that home working can give Efficiency – Helping people provide a better service to the public and internal department
Economy – Reducing costs for the business, employee and their customers
Environment – making a significant contribution by reducing unnecessary travel
BT – the UK’s Great Home working Success Story
Savings of £6,000 per employee per annum 30% of Managers manage remotely 11,000 of its 92,000 UK based staff work from home A further 62,000 do so part-time.
No Place like Home?
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