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What’s the smart approach to connectivity?

By Gavin Franks, Chief Operating Officer, O2 Business.

Where are you reading this? At work, no doubt. Although, strictly speaking, being ‘at work’ these days narrows your geographical location down to, well, nowhere in particular.

With advancements in connectivity catching up with (and arguably now dictating) today’s business culture, the long-talked about ‘work anywhere’ era is well and truly upon us.

Unshackled from our desks as today’s office workers have the ability to be, we’re spending increasing amounts of time in familiar yet out-of-context surroundings when we work. The home office. The local coffee shop. The park.

But ‘the modern way’ brings with it a couple of interesting questions too. Like ‘are the hours saved by not commuting to the office my own time or my employer’s?’ And ‘if we’re supposed to be ‘always on’ must I really be always contactable?’ In short, are the up-sides to remote working in favour of the employer or the employee?

The answer to the latter is undoubtedly that both sides stand to benefit hugely from improved connectivity. But it’s vital for a company to set its stall out right at the outset – establishing clear rules of engagement early.

Even so, one tech giant made the headlines not long ago when it banned 12,000 staff from working remotely. Which takes me back to one of my favourite themes – that perceived barriers to flexible working are often cultural rather than practical.

In a recent piece I wrote about flexible working at O2, I described how, in 2012, we put our money where our mouths were and asked 2,500 of our head office employees to work remotely for a day. 88% of these staff said that they were at least as productive as on a normal day at the office, with 36% claiming to have been more productive. Of course, the pilot would have been a failure if the technology had let everyone down. But if people have the right tools for their role, and the support and encouragement of their managers and peers, the sky’s the limit.

This raises the interesting question of where the impetus for cultural change should come from. A recent article quoted the CTO of News UK asserting that CIOs are responsible for ensuring everyone is on the same page as a business makes its journey to digital transformation. I agree. And so does our own CIO Brendan Rourke, who takes a ‘people first’ approach to technology. Or in his own words, “Everything I do from a technology angle always starts with how our people or clients need to use it – as it’s them that make organisations effective, not a device or an app.”

I’m sometimes surprised how the debate on the benefits of flexible working endures, given the powerful evidence in its favour. A YouGov survey last year revealed that businesses are banking £2.2b in savings every week thanks to mobile technology; and saving 9.4m hours a week too.

It’s an ethos and a model available to any business – whatever its size. All you need is a shift in the way you view the working day, and the secure, reliable connectivity technology to make it happen.

Take a look at my recent Point of View for some ideas on the IT essentials that enable successful remote working

Ready to scale up your business? Call an O2 business specialist on 0800 028 0202 or call free from your O2 mobile on 8002.


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