Flexible working could be just the right Christmas present for your staff

It is no secret that the world of work is ever changing. Recent headlines suggest the impact of technology, robots and AI on the employment market could be both drastic and disturbing.

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In London last week we saw all of Southern Rail’s 2,242 weekday services cancelled for 48 hours – these would usually have serviced more than 300,000 commuters per day. On top of this the UK now faces the prospect of a strike from British Airways cabin crew which could, in theory, delay employees returning to work on time.

During 2016 the UK has experienced a number of strikes on the train system throughout the UK (Virgin Trains East Coast, Eurostar and ScotRail along with Southern) alongside the National Union of Teachers closing one-third of all schools.

Junior doctors in the National Health Service also staged a number of walkouts during the year, which although not directly affecting employers, certainly had an effect on planned absences.

Although these disruptions are frustrating for employers and employees alike, the business world has never been more able to adapt to them. The advent of technology means that employees can create their own virtual workspaces so in many cases they do not actually have to access the office to perform a large range of duties.

At the simplest level this means sending and receiving emails on a phone and using a laptop to connect to secure networks, they can even be ‘virtually’ present at important meetings through video calling.

With all these freely available, employers should be able to plan work management strategies when strikes are in place – similar to a crisis management plan – that would allow the company to continue operating even if a number of employees cannot physically get to the office.

These plans can be broad to cover the majority of the workforce but also bespoke in certain cases where required.

Alex Fleming, Managing Director of Adecco Retail says:
Flexible working can be so much more than a way of getting through strikes, it can be a way to improve productivity and engagement within your workforce. Employees may feel that time out of the office allows them to reflect and focus on important projects whilst having a better work/life balance.

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