The hidden benefits of unified communications

Phil Hambly from GCI explains why facilitating flexible working can benefit enterprises

By Guest on 10 March 2017
The hidden benefits of unified communications

Just recently commuters in the south experienced a day of hell. A snap strike called on the Tube and Southern Rail inflicted its 29th strike in a row. These events are of course not uncommon – indeed official figures state that there were 322,000 working days lost to strike action in 2016, an increase of 89% on the year before.

Just days later, Storm Doris caused widespread travel disruption across the UK. The live ‘snow cams’ in Glasgow, and the adjacent motorways, spoke volumes.

We should therefore all be asking the question: “Could we do things differently?” In many cases, and for a variety of job roles, the answer is a resounding ‘YES’! Many of the benefits of unified communications have been spoken about already, so we decided to look at some of those that have garnered less attention but are nevertheless compelling.

Incredibly, one in four Brits spend nearly 30 days a year on commuting alone – it sounds a lot (and it is) but this is based on three hours a day – or one and a half hours each way. When put like that it’s easy to see how it mounts up. Perhaps not surprisingly this is reflected in worker well-being: some 82% of remote workers report lower stress levels compared with their office-based counterparts!

In recognising some of these benefits, it also seems that some workers would be willing to take a financial ‘hit’ themselves to get them. In a recent joint study by Princeton and Harvard Universities, 8% of workers stated they would be willing to take a pay cut to work from home and 20% would similarly take a reduction to avoid ‘weird hours’.

Studies also indicate that flexible working benefits staff recruitment and retention levels. This is particularly pronounced for the younger workforce. In the US, 68% of job seeking ‘Millennials’ said an option to work remotely would greatly increase their interest in specific employers. It can also help stop staff churn if a Stanford University study of a 16,000 NASDAQ listed firm is anything to go by: it found that attrition levels dropped by a massive 50% once it introduced flexible working.

Much of the above is likely to be because flexible working options make employees happier. Forbes reports that flexible workers score on average 8.1 (out of 10) on a ‘happiness scale’ versus their desk-bound counterparts who scored just 7.4. The business benefit is increased productivity. The same Forbes report also stated that 91% of remote workers believe they ‘get more work done when working remotely’.

So, as many get home tonight stressed after yet another day of travel disruption (and as businesses count the cost of another day lost to strikes) shouldn’t we all be asking if things can be done differently? More simply, when it’s difficult to travel – or indeed dangerous to travel – don’t go there. Work from home!

Have a quick look at our infographic for an ‘at a glance’ summary of this topic.

Phil Hambly is chief marketing officer at GCI


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