Archive for July 2009

The changing nature of the holiday

Recession has bought one question to mind here as the holiday season starts – does it bring more frivolity or less?

Last year few of us on our August breaks anticipated what we were about to experience in terms of economic turbulence for the ensuing 12 months. This year there is hopefully less of a smokescreen against the Autumn and for many white collar professionals it is more about taking some invaluable time out to reflect on careers and values which have been turned upside down over the last year.

In a boom there is a large opportunity-cost in taking a holiday compared to taking a break in a recession. This year many will be happier to walk away for August and take time out compared to other years. However, we believe less people will be taking time out completely but having more of a longer ‘working break’.

As an increasing number of entrepreneurs are now popping up as a result of the recession, it means many are likely to be working from home over the August period as opposed to taking a shorter but more complete break. Compared to other years workers will be less likely to put down their tools altogether. OfficePOD’s garden office solution provides the ability to easily work from home over the summer break; with an escape from the main living space without commuting altogether and where downtime from work can be spent in your own garden rather than on a park bench or at the desk.

In recession it makes sense to take longer breaks with friends and family, shutting the head office but keeping the machine running. Technology permits that the offices of SMEs can be run virtually from almost anywhere. Working from home over August means that participation in leisure time over the holiday period is ever possible and commute time is eliminated. So if it is done efficiently, there is no reason why August cannot become a more flexible month with shorter working hours.

Increasingly large British firms, like KPMG for example, are embracing flexible working, showing they are keen to retain talent and allowing more of their workers to operate from home. Management are becoming more innovative to keep hold of employees. This means that the traditional two to three week holiday in August might not prevail but will start to take on different variations, including working from home.

UK Low Carbon Transition Plan – White Paper Release

The Government’s Energy White Paper, being published today, is likely to bring the UK one step closer to Smart Working initiatives becoming more mainstream. The UK Low Carbon Transition Plan White Paper will encourage consumers through a ‘feed in tariffs’ programme and as part of today’s announcement the Government will also be publishing a transport carbon-reduction strategy.

OfficePOD meets carbon reduction objectives, most obviously through commute costs being slashed for employers and employees. In addition, reducing the use of air conditioned offices is also a major contributor to the generated savings. We are constantly seeking dialogue with the Government as to how a consumer can be incentivised to install an OfficePOD in their home, or an employer to use the OfficePOD, as part of smart working initiatives.

Watch this space.

Cisco and BT Adopt Smart Working

OfficePOD naturally embraces companies adopting smart working practices. In these recessive times it takes a large amount of forward thinking for employers to allow employees to work from home. We are always seeking to educate employers on the mutual benefits of implementation of smart working for both the company and its staff.

So you have to love Cisco. Cisco this week has revealed it has made more than US$277 million in productivity savings by letting employees work from home. Survey results show the company’s telework program makes employees happy. Cisco based its productivity savings on the number of billed hours at an average of US$91 per hour, with the total figure reaching a mindblowing estimate of US$277 million. In addition it’s estimated employees made fuel cost savings exceeding US$10 million per year.

Here in Europe, BT is doing the same. BT claims teleworking increases productivity, reduces absenteeism and improves quality of life, but also increases working hours. This is according to a survey of almost 2,000 staff registered with Workabout, BT’s official teleworking scheme. Again, BT is one of the largest employers of “flexible workers” in Britain. Now the company has more than 5,000 Workabout staff. This voluntary scheme, provides equipment and other support to teleworkers who give up permanent BT office space to move to a home-based, mobile working pattern.

In general it seems employees are all for smarter working (we know this by the constant positive feedback we get on the OfficePOD); but there is a mismatch between the keenness of employees to adopt smart working practice against employers being educated on the benefits.

So Cisco and BT if you are reading this, well done on your forward thinking approach to organisational structure – we will be in touch!