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A less regimented life: How faster broadband can help you lead a more flexible lifestyle

Easy access to fast broadband can mean a more flexible lifestyle for your employees, and can help drive customers. Here’s how.
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Easy access to fast broadband can mean a more flexible lifestyle for your employees, and can help drive customers. Here’s how.

Larger, well established businesses often offer a flexible lifestyle as a perk, but for many startups and smaller businesses its essential to getting the business off the ground.

It might be that you have just started your business, and are still in full-time employment elsewhere, and you need to work around previous commitments.

“We work in a digital world that is always on, 24/7. The nine-to-five way of working is increasingly a thing of the past,” said Andrew Gibson, senior manager at Virgin Media Business.

“Enabling workforces to work from wherever is therefore an essential response if a business is to survive in the face of what is becoming a cultural evolution.”

Interestingly, a flexible lifestyle is also a benefit to small business owners to enable others to work at their establishments by providing internet access.

Flexible lifestyle: For customers

“Consumers want to consume, access and interact there and then, and fit it in around their own busy and flexible lifestyles,” explained Gibson.

If you run a coffee shop, for example, your customers will expect to be able to gain access to the internet from your establishment. It won’t be a perk – it will actively count against you if they cannot connect to the internet to get some work done.

If you provide free internet access however, they will not only see that you have met their requirements, they may also linger longer than they may have otherwise done – in the meantime spending more money on coffees and pastries, and benefiting your business.

Flexible lifestyle: For your employees

Enabling flexible working for your customers is one thing, but what is the pay-off of providing it for your own staff? First and foremost, it makes for a happier workforce.

“The freedom to work from where and when best suits the employee leads to more productive employees that work longer hours, with less absenteeism,” said Gibson.

“It increases loyalty and until it’s the norm will be considered a benefit that may reduce wage costs.  Who really wants the rush hour commute when working from home or travelling into the office 30 minutes later may suffice.”

A happier workforce leads to lower absenteeism and staff turnover, which all translates into more efficiency for your business.

Flexible working can also mean reduced overheads, and a reputation of being a green business with a social conscience.

“If you have a flexible workforce that can work from anywhere, the reliance on physical infrastructure is reduced,” explained Gibson.

“Premises can be down-sized, power consumption reduced and in some cases, the cost of mobility tools can be co-funded with the employee.”

How do you make a flexible lifestyle a reality?

To make flexible working a reality, you need fast broadband, as a lot hinges on being able to communicate effectively online, via email or Skype etc.

“It’s the services that run over the top of the connectivity that will truly set your workforce free,” said Gibson.

“Collaborative applications such as Microsoft office 365 that mean you can store and share files and work on them wherever you are, using whatever device you are on and cloud voice solutions that deliver integrated collaboration tools including IM, presence, video calling.”

You can read more about how to make the most of cloud services here.

The pay-off for your business

So, the overall pay-off of engaging with flexible working for your business is two-fold.

Firstly, your customers will be encouraged to hang around and work at your premises if you offer them free access to internet. You can also monetise this further by looking into collecting customer data – you can read more about that here.

Secondly, by offering flexible working to your employees you can create a happier workforce and reduce costs.

It all hinges on connectivity – if you have access to the internet wherever you are, you are no longer tied to a desk. As Gibson said:

“Combining the connectivity with the services truly means that your office is in the palm of your hands.”

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This article is part of our Real Business Broadband campaign, which seeks to provide a mouthpiece for business leaders to vocalise the broadband issues preventing their businesses from reaching full potential. We’d love to hear your take on the debate and where you think the UK needs to make drastic changes – and feel to ask us your broadband queries. Get in touch via email (shane.schutte@realbusiness.co.uk) or join in on the action using #rbBroadband.

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About Author

Letitia Booty

Letitia Booty is a special projects journalist for Real Business. She has a BA in english literature from the University of East Anglia, and since graduating she has written for a variety of trade titles. Most recently, she was a reporter at SME magazine.

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