Polycom Singapore had a big event at the beginning of 2015 – a major office move, where we shifted from the central business district to the extreme east of the island to Changi Business Park. Relocating a company is not a mere change of address, it literally affects the daily work habits of the workforce and involves a lifestyle change for many. It is therefore not uncommon for companies to have some level of attrition when decisions like these are made.
In situations like this, I am glad that at Polycom, we have flexible work options transcending over several aspects - flexibility of workspace, flexibility of time, and flexibility of collaboration tools.
Here are my three big “cents” worth, which flexible work options brings to a company:
1. Fosters innovation
A recent collaboration survey showed 96% of businesses believe that video conferencing removes distance barriers and improves productivity between teams in different cities and countries. By enabling teamwork, removing physical and cultural gaps between colleagues, teams and customers, we harness information and knowledge and foster a culture of innovation. You can read more about how to nurture high performance teams here.
2. Increases productivity
As collaboration tools are today more accessible across a variety of environments and devices, they are also readily integrated into our daily activities. This means we are empowered to plan and execute our work day in a very productive way, and strike a great work/life balance like never before! We can connect with colleagues, talk to partners and customers wherever we are, at a time most convenient for all of us. As we are not limited by the physical confines of a traditional office space at a fixed time of the day, in reality, we can achieve a lot more. I cannot imagine receiving updates from my colleagues in our headquarters only once a quarter only during a big internal conference. We do this every day at Polycom – it is the true meaning of collaboration! This immediately translates to “business cents” when information is up-to-date, actions and go-to market plans can be on time or even brought forward.
3. Work/life balance = Happier employees
No matter how and where we work, we are ultimately measured on specific metrics. Through the empowerment flexiwork brings, employees feel accountable to the company to ensure they deliver. They put in time and effort to achieve their goals, and even any extra effort that’s needed in the process. The motivation comes from the satisfaction employees get as they are not micro-managed or time-managed and have an open channel of communication with their managers / companies. A company essentially retains talent in the process. For me, I also get the satisfaction of being able to jump from my last meeting to having dinner with my toddler in a matter of minutes from the study to the dining table. That’s priceless and I’m grateful.
Research from Lotte Bailyn, professor of management at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and co-author of Beyond Work-Family Balance: Advancing Gender Equity and Workplace Performance, shows that when people are given the required flexibility, the following occurs:
- Increased morale
- Higher frequency of OKRs (Objectives & Key Results) being achieved
- Decreased absenteeism and tardiness
For more on the benefits of flexiwork, also view my colleague Eric Wong’s interview on First Look Asia on Channel News Asia from a HR perspective http://www.channelnewsasia.com/tv/tvshows/firstlook/flexi-work/1650704.html
For organisations that desire to make the first move in enabling a flexi-work environment, there are several resources available. Here are some reference sites:
Ministry of Manpower: http://www.mom.gov.sg/employment-practices/work-life-harmony/Pages/work-life-strategies.aspx
Industry Trends Infographic by Polycom : http://www.polycom.com.sg/solutions/solutions-by-job-function/human-resources.html#stab2
Fostering Innovation & driving performance : http://www.polycom.com.sg/content/dam/polycom/common/documents/brochures/six-considerations-for-high...
Kelly Global Workforce Survey - http://www.kellyservices.com.sg/SG/Worker-Preferences-and-Workplace-Agility/?hid=CA