As many of you may already know, last month saw the return of Work Wise Week, an annual campaign to raise awareness of smarter working practices. Culminating in National Work From Home Day, the event looks to increase productivity of the UK economy to rival the rest of the world.
With the introduction of working from home, flexi-time and other practices, flexible working is on the rise, and businesses and individuals alike need to be aware of the enormous potential that adopting modern working practices can offer.
A recent report stated that the number of people working from home in the UK hit a record 1.5m last year, up by 20 per cent since 2006. While I suspect this is a low estimate given the number of people that work from home on an ad-hoc basis, it simply goes to show the scale of the labour market currently flexing the traditional definition of employment.
We have seen this work particularly well in our own business, with the model of home working applying itself comfortably to the travel sector. As we operate a franchisee model, remote working allows us to empower our individuals to run their own company on their terms. This has been the foundation of many of our franchisees’ customer relationships, helping them to build trust and provide a better level of service.
The fact remains that the old mentality of offices being a place to check whether someone is in work and working is quickly being overtaken by those disruptive businesses that see offices as a space to encourage collaboration and sharing. Similarly, these businesses use technology to empower customers and people to connect, being that face to face, over the phone or via digital channels, increasing the opportunity to work flexibly or remotely.
For us, this technology has been crucial to promoting innovation and providing the best possible service. In particular, the use of our in-house booking technology has revolutionised the way that staff are able to interact with clients, not just for the initial booking, but for ongoing contact and feedback.
Ultimately, the use of this technology is for one purpose: connecting people and creating communities. Whether that’s between self employed business owners and their customers, or even amongst themselves, companies need to offer the opportunity to generate new ideas, build relationships and perfect their skills, all within a supportive and nurturing environment.
So when one of your employees next asks if they can work from home, trust them and embrace it. You never know the growth it could unlock through smarter working practices.
This article is part of a wider campaign called Founders Diaries, a section of Real Business that brings together 20 inspiring business builders to share their stories. Bringing together companies from a wide variety of sectors and geographies, each columnist produces a diary entry each month. Visit the Founders Diaries section to find out more.
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