Less than one in ten of the UK’s businesses trust their employees to work out of the office – despite the two fifths of workers who are confident that they could do a better job remotely, shows new independent research released today by BT Business and Nortel.
The data shows managers are reluctant to move their people away from dated, desk-based days, instead sticking to outdated working models.
This is regardless of their employees, who say they could be more productive on the road, working with a customer and from home if they were given the technology to manage and support them.
John Wright, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said “This boils down to a matter of trust. In the current climate, small firms need to be operating at full stretch. Last week’s bad weather demonstrated the need for British businesses to enable their employees to be productive, wherever they are.”
Despite dramatic changes in the UK workforce since the 1970s, the research points to outdated working practices – such as ‘presenteeism’ where it is thought that if employees are not at their desks, they are not working – that businesses can put to bed by unifying their communications.
Unified communications integrates voice, data, fixed and wireless business channels, allowing teams to work together, answer calls and answer customer queries whether in or out of the office.
Managers can check productivity – down to even the number of calls and emails that are made and answered. Costs and duplicate work are reduced because all customer, supplier and partner contact is reduced to a single communications system.
“BT’s 70,000 flexible workers have saved us £500m in building costs and 100,000 tonnes of CO2. We can effectively manage our employees and have seen a 30 per cent rise in productivity. By unifying communications systems our business customers can be more responsive to new opportunities and customer enquiries wherever they are.
“Faster reaction and fulfilment times are a positive way to increase customer satisfaction, increase loyalty and encourage growth. These technologies can also help to attract and retain staff through flexible working,” says John Dovey, IT services director at BT Business.
Barry Bonnett, president, Enterprise Solutions, EMEA, Nortel, said “As lifestyles change, so must management’s attitudes towards employees. Unified communications can help managers, but ultimately change depends on trust.”