Blog: Don’t forget, it’s Flexible Working Awareness Day on 6th May!
By Heath Roberts
I’m not great remembering dates, so I’m not surprised I didn’t know it was Flexible Working Awareness Day on 6th May.
It’s probably not one which Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo remembers either. And she certainly won’t be implementing it at Yahoo after she took the decision in 2013 to ban home working.
By limiting home working, she’s implying everyone working from home lie about how hard they work. And they need to be supervised in the office in order to be productive.
As someone who works from home on a frequent basis, in fact I’m writing this now from my dining room table, I do take issue with this position.
If you work in an office environment, then there really isn’t a reason why you shouldn’t work from home. You can avoid the commute, long meetings and get things done quicker, as well work in an environment where you can be more creative.
The technology has now got to the point where you can have the same experience logging in from home as I can from at work. In fact as I have fibre at home, it’s actually better.
But I also believe flexible working has far more reaching benefits for the modern organisation.
My view on this has only been reinforced since I was fortunate to hear a presentation by Nikki King OBE.
Nikki King is the former MD and currently honorary Chairman of Isuzu Trucks UK. If you ever get the chance to hear her speak about customer service, and how she became the world’s first female managing director of truck firm, do so… it’s inspiring.
She hasn’t achieved her considerable success by being a conformist. So perhaps it was because she was a working mum she saw the opportunity to tap in to this talent pool when it came to implementing her customer CARE programme.
When asked by Management Today the question “Flexible working or office hours?” She replied: “Flexible working. I strongly believe that the reason we don’t have many women in the boardroom is because we don’t make it easy enough for young women to combine family commitments and a career. We encourage our female staff to change their hours to suit, work from home wherever possible and bring their children to work where necessary. As a result, we have retained all our brilliant women who are now 50% of our management team.”
By enabling working mum’s to work from home, around the needs of family life, she has created not just famed customer service, but a team of dedicated and loyal workers. And despite giving up working life to be a full time granny, her legacy continues.
And what about the science to back up these feelings? Well the research report “Does working from home work? Evidence from a Chinese experiment*” conducted by Nicholas Bloom, James Liang, John Roberts, Zhichun Jenny Ying from Stanford University provides a fascinating and scientific study in to how by giving a selection of people, the option to work from home they increased productivity by 13%.
The role IT plays in facilitating Flexible Working should not be understated. By giving your existing users flexibility to work from anywhere, and to give your organisation the opportunity to recruit in new pools of talent, should not be under estimated.
So whilst I’ll probably forget 6th May is Flexible Working Day, the benefits should be remembered by everyone.