Summer is often a quiet time for businesses as many clients have gone away for much needed rest and relaxation. While this offers the opportunity to take stock and prepare for the months to come, such ambitions can be hampered by employees and management also being away from the office on holiday. Further, those left behind can be distracted by hot weather, childcare issues caused by the school holidays, and even key sporting events, all of which reduces productivity.
This year the sporting calendar is particularly hectic with many employees keeping up with the latest score from Wimbledon, the Euros and the Olympics. The World Cup in 2014 cost British businesses around £4 billion in lost productivity according to FIFA, which is only set to increase this year.
The good news is that businesses can take steps to limit this decline and keep employees working effectively, whether they are working in the office or from a remote location. Here are our top four tips for embracing flexible working and keeping on top of productivity over the summer months:
Listen to employees
It’s important to listen and understand the commitments of your employees and provide flexible ways of working that are suitable and convenient for both staff and the business. With the school holidays approaching and the evenings staying lighter longer, everyone has their own ideas about how they work best, from the time of day to the actual physical conditions in which they are required to work. This is never more prevalent than during the summer, when coming into the office everyday can make life uncomfortable for employees. By listening to employees needs and finding out what can improve individual employee productivity, organisations can then act proactively to mitigate them.
It’s time for businesses to start thinking beyond the traditional bricks and mortar office as being 'the' place of work. Modern technology means that employees can work pretty much anywhere with reliable internet. Enabling staff to work from wherever they are and whenever they want helps reduce downtime while travelling for business or while in meetings, out for lunch and so on.
The benefit this provides during the summer is that employees can choose more comfortable, convenient places to work. Further, if workers know they can still be productive in the run up to and around key sporting events without having to miss them, they are less likely to succumb to absenteeism.
Collaboration is key
Effective flexible working depends upon being able to communicate effectively with colleagues who are spread out across locations. To achieve this aim, businesses need to implement technologies that enable fast and reliable on-the-go work, and mobile meetings. It’s important to ensure these platforms integrate effectively with each other, to provide an easy, seamless work experience. The most reliable and future proof platforms are those that are optimised for a range of smart devices – including the ones that are yet to be invented.
Trial home working
There is no doubt about it, some people just work better from home. Fewer distractions and interruptions, while greater freedom to work in a way that is more comfortable, employees can be more productive during hot weather in their own environment. What’s more, by avoiding the summer morning commute, employees are fresher, less hot and flustered when they start work, as well as giving them extra time in the day. In fact, with research from the Trade Unions Congress showing that the average UK commute has risen to 55 minutes each day, being able to avoid travelling to work is a significant time saving for workers each week.
Trialling working from home ahead of time with a few trusted employees is a great idea. Managers should look to set tasks and targets that need to be carried out by the end of the day and see how they compare to those in the office. This will also present the opportunity to look at how key IT applications, networks and hardware perform, and whether or not they need replacing or improving.
This summer there is no need for businesses getting hot under the collar due to a fall in productivity. With foresight, planning and trusting in the right technology, the summer months can be a time for reaping the fruits of one’s labour – whether the sun shines or not!
Stephen Duignan at join.me