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flexible working news, views and best practice Issue 4 June 2015

different dimension The multi-generational workforce challenge

workplace theatre

The interactive way to tackle organisational issues National Grid in bid to enhance its flexibility offering




Case study: Plantronics on a pioneering flex journey

Rigid ‘command and control’ work culture must be replaced with trust

Pensions minister Ros Altmann on essential flexibility for older workers

Flexible boss buyer’s guide: PART ONE


EDITORIAL Editor: Heather Greig-Smith Phone: 07717 456 339 Email:

CONTRIBUTORS Features: Gabriella Józwiak Design: Christian Gilliham Production: Heather Mellis

ADVERTISING For advertising and sponsorship opportunities contact: Commercial director: Adam Cox Phone: 07825 295 222 Email:


PHOTOGRAPHY CREDITS Flickr: backpackphotography shaunsgrimepics plantronicsgermany 125838394@N07 22746515@N02 the-cbi leehaywood criminalintent

Universal issue Different generations have different workplace needs, but flexibility is a common theme when it comes to managing the multi-generational workforce effectively


e should all be paying close attention to the fate of the multi-generational

workforce and progress towards age diversity. Getting older is universal. Caring for partners, parents, children and grandchildren while keeping working will be an increasingly common challenge. We


will also be working longer to pay for

Flexible Boss is published quarterly by HGS Media. No part of this publication can be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. Flexible Boss takes all care to ensure information is correct at time of publication, but the publisher accepts no responsibility or liability for the accuracy of any information contained in the text or advertisements. Views expressed are not necessarily endorsed by the publisher or editor.

much longer periods of old age, and many of us will relish and embrace that opportunity. Age diversity at work can be effectively tackled with flexibility and

employers be doing to tackle some of

workforce agility. It also offers greater

the challenges and opportunities of

balance to the flexibility debate, for

the age-diverse workforce? Our expert

it is not about a specific group – such

columnists turn their attention to

as the parents of young children – but

that very issue, and on pp16-18

everyone. We are all potentially future

Gabriella Józwiak takes a look at

carers, people who will need to be

some who are leading the field in this

cared for and people who might like

regard, such as Marks & Spencer and

or need to phase their retirement. The

McDonald’s. One size doesn’t fit all and

issue of the ageing population raises

the most successful will need to adapt.

big economic questions for individuals, DISTRIBUTION PARTNERS

On a practical level, what should

businesses and government. In this issue, the new pensions

Also in this issue, we publish part one of the Flexible Boss Buyer’s Guide. Many of you are charged with making

minister Ros Altmann tells us

radical changes and forging new

why flexibility is so important for

paths in your workplaces. The guide is

older workers, the economy and

designed to help shine a light on some

businesses. Previously older workers

of the companies that can help. In this

business champion for the coalition

issue we cover video conferencing,

government, she argued that more

time & attendance and co-working.

cross-departmental support is needed in government for this agenda when

Many thanks to our sponsors and supporters. Enjoy the issue!

she published a report on the subject in March. Now she is in a position to make change happen.


Flexible Boss: June 2015

Heather Greig-Smith Editor, Flexible Boss

Video Conferencing for the Flexible Worker.

Lifesize Cloud video conferencing enables the flexible workforce to be connected to the office everywhere they go, on any device.

Contact us for your complimentary demonstration and FREE 14-day trial.

Work from wherever you need to get business


done via your laptop, tablet or mobile device. With Lifesize Cloud you can stay connected and maximize your productivity, no matter where you happen to be. Š 2015 Lifesize, a division of Logitech. All rights reserved. Information contained in this document is subject to change without notice. Lifesize is the registered trademark or trademark of Logitech. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.






here is plenty of research

and procedures to comply with

for monitoring working hours, lone

published that provides

the new legislation, you will also

worker, absence, holiday, time off in

real insight into improving

need to upgrade your systems. By

lieu, and study leave etc.

productivity and employee motivation.

implementing a flexible working

Benefits include improvements in

system you can adapt your systems as

may claim to offer flexible working,

staff retention, less absenteeism, more

the business evolves, and manage any

a specialist solution like Etarmis

motivated staff, higher productivity,

combination of work patterns, shifts

provides a whole new range of

better customer service levels, and

and rotas.


improved innovation (employee

Etarmis from hfx has been specially

While the mainstream HR systems

Etarmis can be integrated into

developed to help employers stay on

your current HR system (we already

top of new flexible working legislation,

interface to SAP, Oracle, MidlandHR,

(SPL) legislation offers additional

including Shared Parental Leave.

Access, Opera, Ceridian and many

advantages to employers, in that it

Etarmis integrates seamlessly into

more) to enhance your solution in the

better enables them to retain female

your existing HR and Payroll system,

following ways:

employees and provide improved

enabling you to manage SPL requests,

career opportunities for women.

record ‘notice of intention’, ascertain

However, SPL is a highly complex

employee SPL entitlements and

process and qualifying employees have

automatically calculate and administer

the legal right to choose to take it, so

SPL payments.

engagement). The new Shared Parental Leave

there is no way around it. In a recent

As well as keeping line managers up

• Rich additional features, highly customisable to precise requirements • Configurable for any complex workplace requirement • Manage an unlimited number of

survey 80% of employers expressed

to date with their staffing positions,

concern about how to plan for SPL,

so that they are able to plan, Etarmis

which given that most HR and Payroll

provides HR with a system to

calculation, shift working and

systems are not yet equipped to deal

manage all working time legislation

overtime calculation

with it, is not surprising.

compliances proactively, including

As well as updating your policies

WTD, and any other requirements

working patterns • Provides time recording, flexitime

• Enables absence planning and analysis including real-time Bradford Factor calculation and sickness trigger points • Delivers efficiency calculation and workload measurement reporting • Supports Access Control with a wide range of hardware • Enables photo ID security with one card, one system, one solution As many of our customers have seen, Etarmis has been interfaced with HR solutions to provide a solution flexible enough to manage any permutation of working patterns. This provides a platform for flexible working, enabling the organisation to build and support a more diverse workforce.


Flexible Boss: June 2015


Contents This issue: we focus on the multi-generational workforce with features and expert comment on how to cater for employees of all ages. Plus, part one of the Flexible Boss Buyer’s Guide



News Firms must drop outdated views on flexible working, says CBI; Lloyds pilots phased retirement; workplace will be ‘luxury’ in 2040.




Profile: Ros Altmann The newly-appointed pensions minister tells Heather Greig-Smith a flexible workplace will help change attitudes towards older workers and enable them to work for longer.


11 Generation game Modern workforces will have to cope with age diversity and help employees contribute and thrive at all stages of their career. Choice and flexibility are key, finds Gabriella Józwiak.


FB Buyer’s Guide, part one We look at collaborative technology and ask why some firms video conferencing, co-working, and time & attendance sectors.

National Grid has long offered flexibility. Now it plans to power ahead even further.

Opinions Five takes on the impact of age diversity, and how employers should react.


Workplace theatre

Incentives take flight WorkAngel founder Jamie True discusses his game changing approach to staff benefits, peer recognition and corporate social networking.



32 are reluctant to embrace it, plus we highlight suppliers in the


Bosses need diverse teams to go digital; home work can drive down costly commuting; Gen Y not grabbed by work-life balance.

Could this interactive approach solve staff issues and boost team engagement?


Click to subscribe

Feel the (white) noise

Free monthly bulletins

Headset firm Plantronics has mixed its technical expertise with a flexible approach. We hear how plugging staff into smart working has boosted engagement and cut costs.

June 2015: Flexible Boss



‘Outdated views threaten success’ BUSINESSES and government need to

is no longer as important as it was

work together to transform outdated

before. Businesses face an important

views of flexible working, according to

choice: they can work with employees

CBI deputy director-general Katja Hall.

to make the most of flexibility or risk

She called on organisations to

becoming uncompetitive.”

abandon systems of management

However, Hall said it is important for

based on “counting jackets at desks”

individuals and companies to invest in

and instead manage on outcomes.

skills throughout their working lives.

Hall told delegates at last month’s

Working Families chief executive

Working Families annual conference

Sarah Jackson said that the new

that it was “disappointing” that all

government needs to be encouraged to

political parties pitched flexibility as

“talk the talk and walk the walk” when

“win-lose” in the general election. “I reject that. I think flexibility is a

it comes to flexibility. “There is not Katja Hall: CBI

win-win, but it’s not an easy win to harness,” said Hall.

going to be employment legislation. To make it work we’re going to

Hall added that the first step is to

need strong messages from the new

move away from the view that flexible

business ministers and employment

manager resistance and lack of skills.

working is a favour to employees

organisations about the value of

“There are good signs that firms are

and called for bosses to adopt a

flexibility being a two-way street.”

starting to get it, but when it comes

presumption in favour of flexibility at

She added that policies alone are

to implementation, old-fashioned

the stage of advertising for jobs: “Most

not enough to encourage individuals

attitudes die hard. Having a successful

jobs being created are full-time jobs.”

to adopt the flexibility they require.

One of the key issues is that of line

flexible working culture requires

Changes in technology mean the

“When the leaders don’t walk the

managers to have different skills sets

world of work is changing, she said.

walk then people don’t believe what’s

than we have been used to.”

“Having a physical presence at work

available to them.”

Lloyds pilots phased retirement LLOYDS Banking Group is piloting a staged retirement and retired affiliates programme to retain skills in its small business lending department. Speaking at the Working Families annual conference, diversity and inclusion director Fiona Cannon (pictured) said many regional managers in the department are coming to retirement and there is a huge issue of how to replace the expertise of people making lending decisions for businesses of up to £25m. “Customers know and like these people, plus there is a big regulatory pressure on having the right skills in the right jobs – particularly when it comes to lending to SMEs.” Cannon said the department had not defined the problem as an older workers issue, but that the answer has been to offer those close to retiring greater agility. Staged retirement allows managers to job share with younger colleagues to mentor them and pass on skills and experience. Others who are retiring are being recruited to come back on a consultancy basis and fill in at peak times. “We have about 50 people on that programme at the moment,” said Cannon. “It is so incredibly successful. We have already increased our customer service levels and lending. It has been an absolute business benefit as well as increasing employee engagement. “The regional managers couldn’t believe they were being offered this as an

“We have already increased customer service levels and lending”

opportunity. Because of the crash, a lot of them had enough and wanted to go, but this has reinvigorated them.”


Flexible Boss: June 2015

NEWS Movement fights shy of retiring

would be overlooked for promotion.

A collaborative movement dedicated to

said the regulations are a step in the

creating a society without age barriers

right direction, but cultural change is

has produced 22 suggestions for

necessary to make men more confident

immediate action, including six under

about asking for SPL, and that shared

the theme of work and employability.

parental pay will need to increase.

Julie Morris, head of the Slater and Gordon employment department,

She said: “Men clearly want to share

Age of no Retirement is composed of employers, policymakers, innovators,

in parental leave, but many fear that

designers, academics and individuals.

this will have a negative effect on

In April 300 people met in Manchester

their standing in the office or hamper

to work on the 22 ‘prototypes’ which

their career prospects. A stigma is

include suggestions such as toolkits for

likely to exist and a cultural shift will

the multi-generational workforce, age

need to happen for men to not feel

champions, and a ‘Flexifund’ to enable

embarrassed about asking their boss.”

workers to prepare for life transitions.

and Manchester. Voting is now taking

Video technology boosts healthcare

place on which of the prototypes

Healthcare providers in the US and UK

should be prioritised.

are using video technology to increase

In total, 780 people and 300 groups have participated in events in London

the number of patients they can treat

Call for sedentary work to take back seat

for all desk-based workers. Breaking up seated work with standing work

video conferencing provider Polycom,

Employers should encourage office

can be achieved using sit-stand desks

speech therapist Veronica Southern

workers to spend time standing

that change height. However, it notes

said she is using high-quality video

and regularly break up seated

that prolonged standing can also be

links to assess swallowing in post-

work, according to a statement by

harmful and should be avoided.

stroke patients in nursing homes in the

an international group of experts

and the reach of their services.

“The evidence is clearly emerging

Speaking at an event hosted by

north west of England.

published in the British Journal of

that a first ‘behavioural’ step could

Sports Medicine.

be simply to get people standing and

deliver an assessment in 30 minutes,”

moving more frequently as part of

she said. “It would have taken 90

their working day,” it said.

minutes to go out on a home visit.

health is based on observational and

Men reluctant to ask for shared leave

sharing the benefits of that with other

retrospective studies, which make it

Almost a third (31%) of men do

a big impact.”

difficult to prove direct cause.

not think their manager would be

Commissioned by Public Health England and community interest

“We are building capacity and

company Active Working, the statement said much of the evidence that a sedentary lifestyle damages

“We can link with the nurses and

departments, getting podiatry and end-of-life care involved. I anticipate Speaking to Flexible Boss, Southern

understanding if they asked for shared

added that the technology opens up

term intervention studies are required,

parental leave (SPL), research by law

work flexibility to staff members.

the level of consistent evidence

firm Slater and Gordon has said.

However, it added: “While longer-

accumulated, and the public health

In addition, more than 20% of the

Meanwhile, Ed Spencer, director of telepsychiatry at the South Carolina

context of rising chronic diseases,

1,000 men questioned thought their

Department of Health, said using video

suggest initial guidelines are justified.”

colleagues would make fun of them.

is allowing mental health professionals

SPL allows parents to split leave after

to reach isolated areas of the state.

the birth or adoption of a child.

He said in the past five years they

Those working in offices spend 65%75% of their working hours sitting, of which more than 50% is ‘sustained

The research found that 47% of men

have conducted 20,851 long-distance

sitting’. Active Working recommends

wanted to have a quarter share of

consultations, resulting in a 53%

two hours daily of standing and

parental leave and 37% would like to

reduction in the length of hospital stay

light walking during working hours,

share time off equally. However, 21%

and a 48% rate of discharge the same

eventually progressing to four hours

thought doing this would mean they

day, saving $1,400 per episode of care.

Flexible Boss: June 2015





n the past, workplace predictions

in this way. The CIO needs to ensure

interactions. Even when we meet

often focused on the sci-fi and

that video is an equal option within

face-to-face we organise our meeting

fantastical, with images of

the unified communications mix, and

with email, diary invites to our

hover-cars and jet packs. Now, the

that it is incorporated into business

smartphones, content sharing during

proliferation and uptake of modern

processes as voice and email are.

video conferencing and instant

technologies means that the workplace

messaging the last details before the

of the near future can be predicted

The future is not a place

meeting. Beyond this, our physical

much more accurately. Businesses,

Technology is having the biggest

spaces are becoming more connected.

and in particular the CIO, can begin to

impact on our working practices;

We can tap into our networks via

plan for and design their work spaces

particularly technologies that

our physical surroundings through

around future requirements.

can be accessed from anywhere

voice activation and gesture control.

When designing the workplace of

such as cloud. New and improved

By incorporating the digital into the

the future there are five key shifts in

collaboration tools are making it

physical it means that the business can

for CIOs to keep in mind.

possible to conduct ad-hoc meetings

incorporate every interaction into its

anywhere, anytime. The rapid

CRM and ultimately its sales funnel.

Video’s new value

evolution of data networks means that

Phone calls and emails are no longer

the quality of these communications

Data is king

enough to run an efficient and

on smartphones and tablets is more

This is because of the 50 billion

productive operation. Everyone, from

than sufficient for enterprise VoIP and

connected devices and objects in the

your employees to your partners and

video conferencing apps. The meeting

world that digitise every interaction,

customers, is becoming more familiar

room of the future will also no longer

action and reaction. Big data analysis

with a range of communications

necessarily be a physical location.

is reaching the point where this

technologies. The average person uses

data is converted into meaningful

Skype or FaceTime in their personal

The physical and digital are merging

information that people expect to be

life, so they are familiar with the

The way we conduct business is

able to use. In an enterprise context,

benefits of face-to-face communication

now a hybrid of physical and digital

this means your business leaders will expect this information to be delivered to them in a digestible format. The data you harvest from your connected intelligence should become business insight which is fed back into the functions to hone their processes and improve productivity. Problems will be opportunities Technology is going to be the biggest driver of change. Business leaders, particularly the CIO, can and should plan for the future workplace now. By thinking ahead and understanding how emerging technologies can integrate into business process, they will be productive, not disruptive.


Flexible Boss: June 2015

THE RISE OF THE WORKSPACE CONSUMER Introducing a future world of work in 2040 where the next generation of knowledge workers, working in ‘digirati’ organizations, are totally in control of where, how and when they work.



Workplace will be 2040 ‘luxury’ NINA, THE 2040 EMPLOYEE

For Nina and millions of other ‘digirati’ employees, work is something you do, not a place you commute to.

For Nina, no two days are the same…

KNOWLEDGE workers 25 years from now will be in control of how, where and when they work, according to a report by technology and industrial multinational Johnson Controls. Smart Workplace 2040, produced by the company’s Global WorkPlace Solutions (GWS) business, envisages

SMART WORKPLACE 2040 Nina is a workspace consumer: she has a high degree of choice of workspaces and chooses from a complex model of easily accessible locations: @Warp workspace Mobile collaboration: Whilst using comfortable, connected public transport


@Faraday Bistro

Collaboration hub: To drive enterprise competitiveness

Isolation time: Focus space, offline for quiet productivity

@Hive The home enviroment: Winding down and quality time

a world in which personal choice dictates individual working patterns and staff have access to a range of co-working facilities near their homes. It says campus locations that offer a access to a “trophy workplace” will be a “luxury” and “reward” that provides

@pHive Working on the move: Maintaining a high-performance workflow and staying productive as you move

@Eco Workplace The trophy workspace: A highly networked, campus-based HQ

@Smart Workspace

an “outstanding experience”. GWS

Meeting and collaborating: High performance collaboration

predicts most workers will be selfemployed, and facilities will be multipurpose and offer a mix of leisure, work and wellness. The report says a “concerted

are no set hours as long REAL as theESTATE work AND FACILITIES report envisions how this will affect CORPORATE MANAGEMENT WILL is done. “A typical day may the everyday life of an employee NEED TO ADAPT FORinclude THE NEXT GENERATION OF ‘DIGIRATI’ EMPLOYEES a blend of mobile productivity;

and businesses. The findings have

REDEFINE virtual, ADAPT holographic and face-to-face

DIGITIZE for leaders and REDESIGN implications real





response” is required from property,

collaboration; offline time and quality

facilities, workplace and HR functions

time at home,” says the report. they anticipate the way our society Download a full copy of the Smart Workplace 2040 report from

to ensure that businesses are fully

The report’s author, GWS director

#SW2040 @GWSworkplace

prepared for the changes ahead.

ofGLOBAL global workplace innovation Dr WORKPLACE SOLUTIONS

Workers will demand adaptable,

Marie Puybaraud, said: “In 2040 we

radical working patterns where there

will consume space, not own it, so the

estate managers around the world as SUPPORT SERVICES


mix of facilities will be the norm, while

and technology is changing and

transforming the way we work.” The report was peer reviewed in US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific workshops.

Men ‘fake’ 80-hour work weeks HIGH-PERFORMING men may be faking 80-hour work weeks, according to research by a Boston academic. Erin Reid, assistant professor of organisation behaviour at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, interviewed 100 people at a global consulting firm with a strong US presence. She found that 60-80 hour working weeks were commonplace and individuals had little control over when and where they work. Reid said female workers were expected to find balancing work and family difficult and were often given formal accommodations but marginalised in the firm as a result. Writing in the Harvard Business Review, she said: “In contrast, many men found unobtrusive, under-the-radar ways to alter the structure of their work (such as cultivating mostly local clients, or building alliances with other colleagues), such that they could work predictable schedules in the 50 to 60 hour range. In doing so, they were able to work far less than those who fully devoted themselves to work, and had greater control over when and where those hours were worked, yet were able to “pass” as ideal workers, evading penalties for their noncompliance.” Reid added that men who asked for the accommodations offered to women for family reasons found themselves marginalised and penalised.

“Many found under-the-radar ways to alter the structure of work” Flexible Boss: June 2015



Research: latest news Bosses ‘must build digital workplaces’ Businesses must build diverse, digitally savvy teams that can inspire flexible, agile ways of working if they are to become truly digital themselves, Accenture has said. Interviewing 500 European business leaders and surveying 2,500 employees, the consultancy found 78% of business leaders expect their organisations to be digital in the next three years but only one in five would describe their business that way now, and few are taking specific actions to prepare their staff for a digital future. While employee resistance and a lack of digital skills are seen as a barrier, the report said employees are keen to embrace change. “Digital will play to different strengths in different people,” said Céline Laurenceau, managing director, Accenture Strategy. “The millennial generation may be more tech savvy, but older workers may be better attuned to new forms of collaboration, management and the provision of training. Employers need to ensure digital talent strategies take these differences into account as they transform their workforces.”

Home work drives down costly commute Almost a third of UK workers are paying more than 5% of their salary in commuting costs, according to research by flexible workspace provider Regus. It surveyed 4,000 business people across the UK and found that the average proportion of pay spent on commuting is now 4%, a rise from 3% in 2010. Meanwhile, 11% of respondents are spending more than a tenth of their pay on their commute. The cost and the wasted time are leading many to seek flexibility. Richard Morris, Regus UK chief executive, said offering employees the chance to work from home at least one day a week could make a huge difference to their experience of work and enable organisations to retain talented staff for longer. He said: “Businesses that want to retain and attract top talent cannot fail to address the issue of the costly commute. Flexible working can provide a solution. Staff that spend less time stuck in traffic jams or on crowded trains have more time to apply themselves to the job in hand.”

Work-life balance fails to grab Gen Y Millennials do not place high importance on improved work-life balance when considering a new job, according to research by recruiter Robert Walters. It said only 15% of millennial workers feel improving their work-life balance is important, with respondents instead reporting salary (25%), a more fulfilling job (25%) and better career development opportunities (20%) as key drivers. Technology is also important to them, with 53% more likely to accept a job if the employer uses the same technology they do. However, the report said this does not mean that millennials do not value worklife balance. “On the contrary, 90% of millennials surveyed regard policies that encourage a good work-life balance as one of the best things about their job. While good work-life balance is important to ensure job satisfaction among millennials once they are employed, it is not an effective strategy to recruit them.”


Flexible Boss: June 2015


Powerful moves to boost flexibility National Grid has long offered flexible working. Heather Greig-Smith hears how the energy giant plans to fuel improvements


greater work-life satisfaction and more positive views of management, the business and their place within it, than full-time, non-flexible peers. By contrast, those without flexibility – the shift workers – were consistently more negative. “We can see there is a real business benefit [to flexibility],” says Langley. “In the areas where we

he change in legislation last

prohibit flexibility we can definitely

year to allow anyone to request

see a difference in performance.”

flexible working after 26 weeks’

The company is now focusing on

employment service was barely noticed

enhancing agile working in areas that

at gas and electricity operator National

are less obviously open to it. “We are

Grid. “We paid it no attention because

trying to create more flexibility,” he

we’d already said that everybody could

says. “For example, emergency repair

request flexible working,” says Simon

teams. People in the gas business are

Langley, the firm’s UK head of inclusion

doing some very creative thinking

and diversity.

about how they can achieve that.

National Grid employs 9,000 people

“We have a number of posts that

one has asked to work flexibly and I bet it’s not because they don’t want to.

in the UK – many of whom have

I thought couldn’t be done flexibly,

I am monitoring zero request [areas]

formal or informal flexible working

particularly in our operational areas,

because zero requests seems wrong.”

agreements. Flexible workers are

but union reps know some people who

Like many organisations, National

represented across every level of the

are working flexibly there. People come

Grid has to consider multi-generational

business bar field engineers, and of

up with creative solutions – it’s about

diversity, but its high number of older

250 flexible working requests received

giving them permission to do that.”

male engineers means dealing with an

This becomes more important as

ageing workforce is a particular issue.

over a two-year period, 248 have been accepted. The company’s approach

work changes and employees seek

“People are not going to stop working

is a default ‘yes’ to requests – the

more autonomy, Langley says. Cloud

abruptly,” says Langley. “We’re starting

onus being on managers to give valid

computing and collaboration tools

to look at flexible [phased] retirement

reasons for refusal and applicants to

mean virtual teams are commonplace.

and dialling down work – perhaps

build a business case.

This is accompanied by cultural change.

working as a mentor or coach.”

Speaking at the Working Families

“Society is changing. We see a lot more

He believes the single biggest issue

annual conference in May, Langley

democratisation in the workplace.

is talent. “We are facing a really

says the business benefits are clear:

There is less desire to be directed – it is

interesting challenge: our employees

“The evidence is that if you offer

more about [staff] defining how they

are 20 years older than the UK average

flexible working you see an uptick

work for themselves.”

– our average age is 47 and in the

across a whole range of measures.”

Another well-documented issue

field force, just under 50. Many are on

many organisations have to deal

defined benefit pensions and they will

multinational’s employee engagement

with is resistance to flexible working

leave when those pensions kick in –

survey, completed by 20,000 of its

among line managers – something

there is no incentive for them to stay.

25,000 global workers earlier this year.

Langley is determined to tackle. “We

Segmented for part-time, full-time,

have probably allowed too much line

competitive advantage to compete for

flexible and shift workers, it shows

manager discretion in this space. Some

talent? We needed to pull a number

the most positive responses came

managers say no. We know there are

of different levers and this has been a

from flexible workers. They reported

hot spots in the organisation where no-

fundamental part of that change.”

This is neatly demonstrated by the

“What can we do to gain a

June 2015: Flexible Boss





s the coalition

Democrat pensions minister

has certainly been well

saying she had voted for the


Steve Webb lose his seat,

received and has come

party several times in the

business champion

Altmann became pensions

with a huge amount of

past, writing on her blog

minister instead.

expectation from those

that Ed Miliband’s refusal

campaigning for change.

to admit it had overspent

for older workers, in March economist Ros Altmann

It was a development

CBE published her New

described by Stephen

Her pensions expertise is

when in government was “astonishing”.

Vision for Older Workers,

Burke, director of social

longstanding. An adviser to

calling on businesses and

enterprise United for All

the Blair government, she

In her report, Altmann

government to retain,

Ages, as “miraculous”.

campaigned over several

highlighted the key role of

retrain and recruit older

Referring to the situation

years – without payment –

flexibility in keeping older

workers. She argued that

for older workers beyond

for the 140,000 steelworkers

workers in work. Here, post

failure to do so will damage

the focus of pensions, he

who lost their pensions

appointment, she answers

organisations, individuals

added: “I suspect she will

in 2002 when Allied Steel

our questions on the

and the economy.

continue to push the whole

and Wire failed, eventually


agenda.” Indeed, one of

winning at judicial review

general election, David

the recommendations in

in 2007. She has also

How important is flexible

Cameron declared his

Altmann’s older workers

campaigned for Equitable

working in helping people

intention to appoint

report was that government

Life policyholders and for

work for longer?

Altmann to the House

needed more cross-

annuities reform, and will

Everyone now has the right

of Lords and make her

departmental co-ordination

now oversee and continue

to request flexible working.

minister for consumer

and the appointment of

the pensions reforms

As older workers frequently

protection and financial

a champion to drive that.

started by Webb in the last

face barriers to remaining

education if the

Whether an extra person


in work or returning

Conservatives retained

is needed to do that now

power. However, in the

Altmann is in government

social media, Altmann came

responsibilities or health

aftermath of the election,

remains to be seen.

out against Labour in the

issues – flexible working

general election despite

can help them manage

In the lead up to the

which saw Liberal

Her appointment

Active online and in

to work – due to caring

these pressures. Business also benefits by retaining invaluable experience, so

CV May 2015: Appointed to House of Lords and becomes minister for pensions 2014: Appointed business champion for older workers & awarded CBE 2010-2013: Director-general, Saga Group 2002-2007: Spearheads campaign to achieve compensation for workers who lost final salary pensions, leading to establishment of Financial Assistance Scheme & Pension Protection Fund. 1993-2010: Becomes independent consultant specialising in pensions, savings, retirement and investment. Advises UK Treasury on 2001 Myners Review and is policy adviser to Number 10 Policy Unit from 2001-2005 1984-1993: Works in the City for Chase Manhattan, Rothschild Asset Management and Natwest Investment Management Education: University College London, London School of Economics, Harvard University


Flexible Boss: June 2015

it’s a win-win situation. We know flexible working is a popular option for employees, too. A YouGov poll commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions showed that nearly two-thirds of over 50s do not believe that working full-time and then stopping altogether is the best way to retire.

lifetime and could have a

are ingrained in our

more open-minded to

report, I would like to see

pension around 13% larger

culture, so they won’t go

recruiting and training older

a future where every older

to spend for the rest of

away overnight, but we

staff, as well as considering

person who wants to work,

their life.

must continue to challenge

flexible working.

As I outlined in my

out-dated images presented

can work; where flexible

To some extent, of course,

working and phased

What progress have you

to us: road signs which

older workers themselves

retirement are the accepted,

seen on recommendations

show ageing people bent

internalise the social norms

and expected, norm.

in your report?

over a walking stick, and

and write themselves

It has only been 10 weeks

television and newspaper

off because they reach a

Will your older workers

since the report was

pieces presenting pictures

certain age. I would hope

and pensions agendas

released, so it is too early to

of elderly people when

that they will aim to learn

cross over?

tell at this stage. However,

referring to those in

and develop, so their skills

Yes, there is certainly a

this issue remains a priority

their fifties, need to be

remain relevant in the

cross-over. Enabling older

and the new government


workplace. They could also

people to continue working,

will be looking at this

if they wish to, could mean


higher lifetime incomes

Many companies are

consider flexible working,

already recognising the

to accommodate other

business case for retaining

demands in their lives, such as caring for others.

for millions. If individuals

How can you get

older workers. Businesses

work three years longer on

organisations to really

must look at the facts

average earnings of ÂŁ25,000

accept older workers and

and plan for an ageing

What about those who are

a year, they would earn

cater to their needs?

workforce. Increasing

not pursuing the agenda?

an extra ÂŁ75,000 in their

Some of these stereotypes

numbers are becoming

Demographics show that

Flexible Boss: June 2015


PROFILE by 2022, there will be

managers in the importance

3.7 million more people

of retaining older workers’

aged between 50 and state

skills, and the benefits of

pension age, yet 0.7 million

continuing to offer training

fewer people aged 16 to 49.

and development to

So we can’t afford to ignore

employees of all ages. There

our ageing population.

is a potentially negative

Businesses face being

impact on their business

disadvantaged if they don’t

if they do not appreciate

consider their older staff

the wealth of experience

adequately. Not only could

an older worker can bring.

they miss out on the wealth

Encouraging line managers

of experience that older

to think about the ‘3 Rs’ of

workers bring, but they also

retaining, retraining, and

risk losing a large chunk

recruiting older, as well as

of their workforce – and

younger, staff is part of the

valuable skills – over a


short period of time. It is also worth making

How do you avoid

the point that younger

flexibility for older

people’s employment

workers being seen as an

prospects also rise as


employment rates of older

Flexible working and its

people increase. The fallacy

benefits for young families

that older workers steal

are well known, but there is

younger workers’ jobs is

more we can do to promote

harmful to the economy.

its use for older workers.

There is not a fixed number

Evidence shows that

of jobs.

employers who fail to

Keeping more older

retain their older workers

people in work helps to

preparing line managers

some to cope with – and

are losing important skills

increase their incomes and

is key. I recommend that

could affect a woman’s

from their workforce –

gives them more money

all managers should be

performance at work. I

and the premature loss of

to spend – and an increase

trained in supervising older

believe that line-managers

older workers can lead to

in spending power leads

workers and age-diverse

should be trained in dealing

loss of output and higher

to more jobs being created

teams – and promote

with such matters, and

recruitment costs.

overall. Conversely, if more

healthy ageing and flexible

approach all medical issues

older people stop work, they


seriously and sensitively.

people in the workforce

Keeping more older

I dedicate a section to

More support networks

will be crucial to meet

power and ultimately

women, in which I detail

and accommodation for

future labour demand. It

there will be fewer jobs for

the particular impact that

particular needs can help

is therefore important that

younger people.

menopause can have on

women stay in work when

attitudes towards older

will have lower spending

women in the workplace.

they might otherwise feel

workers evolve to meet that

reasons for employing an

This is a health condition

they have to leave.

challenge – and a flexible

age-diverse workforce. For

that can be difficult for

There are sound business

There is a need to educate

example, older workers

workplace is a move in the right direction.

can improve customer satisfaction and appeal to an ageing customer base. What can be done to ensure that line managers are not a barrier? As I outlined in my report,


Flexible Boss: June 2015

It is important that attitudes towards older workers evolve and a flexible workplace is a move in the right direction

Employers can find practical suggestions for effectively managing an older workforce in the recently launched DWP toolkit at employer-toolkit

Facing up to the challenges of an ageing workforce

Re tire in o 1 X5 eX6ars y

Over the next decade, the changing age profile of the workforce will be the most significant development in the labour market. By 2020 a third of the UK workforce will be over 50. Health policies, supporting employees’ responsibilities as carers, aspirations as grandparents, flexible working and evolving job roles all need be taken into consideration. To access our helpful resources CLICK on the postits below Join Our R: HR WEBINA

The Ageing ate: Workforce Deb an s of The challenge orce ageing workf h June t 8 1 y a d s r u h T

Download our LATEST RESEARCH What do working carers need & what do employers provide?


o your w e t i v n s for I u n i o j s to carer binar: e w e e our fr reer a C r u & Yo Caring d July n 2 y a Tuesd




he variety of generations

out to map common characteristics

populating the workforce has

of these groups. In January 2012, a

X’, ranging from late 30s to late

never been broader. Almost half

report published by business leaders’

40s. The study describes this sub-

of baby boomers plan to keep working

campaign group The B Team and

section as giving work-life balance

beyond age 65, while 13% want to

charity Virgin Unite summed up the

the highest priority. They like to be

remain employed into their 70s,

most common definitions.

challenged, have responsibility for their own personal development, work

according to professional services firm Deloitte. At the same time, twenty-

The middle group is ‘Generation

Defining priorities

flexibly and are loyal to people, not organisations.

something graduates are entering

Next, the study identified ‘the

employment with different skills,

It described workers aged 70 and

values and habits, forcing employers

above as ‘veterans’ or ‘traditionalists’.

‘millennials’ or ‘Generation Y’. Perhaps

to redesign workspaces and practices.

They want to be rewarded for loyalty

the most talked-about in terms of

Some workplaces now operate through

and experience and will work beyond

their impact on workplace practices, it

a 50-year age range, but is this half-

retirement if they receive more

suggested this group of 20 to 30-year-

century a business opportunity or a

flexible hours. Those in their 50s to

olds blur lines between work and


late 60s, the ‘baby boomers’, want

personal life. They have shaken up

to be rewarded for long hours and

employment structures by demanding

labels to differentiate workforce

prefer workplace authorities to make

empowerment, greater responsibility

cohorts by age. Studies have also set


and more fun. They find traditional

Employment analysts use several


Flexible Boss: June 2015

DIVERSITY benefits packages unattractive, with

crèches, gyms or dry cleaners. But

many staying with employers for less

firms should not expect all employees

than three years.

to relish such investments. “That will really appeal to some people – for

Finally, the report describes first-jobbers in their late teens as

others it’s their idea of a living hell,”

‘Generation Z’ or ‘digital natives’.

she says. “The younger generation

Representing a generation brought

especially want to have more choice

up alongside new technologies,

rather than being told what to do.” Sweeney also advises employers to

they prefer to communicate via social media, want direct access to

design flexible working practices to

decision-makers, and like Gen Y will

suit all age groups. “Younger people

change jobs frequently.

will want to know what level of flexibility they’re going to have in the

The millennials have caught

role before they decide to take it,” she

employers’ attention because they are typically hard to attract

Tanith Dodge: Marks & Spencer

Research published by professional services firm PwC in 2011 argued that although more numerous than the baby boomer generation – millennials will form 50% of the global workforce by 2020 – they also remain in short supply in parts of the world with lower birth rates.

Millennial needs

suggests. “They will want to know what technology is available and how

and retain, but vital for business.

“We will often partner young participants with older, more experienced store members”

they’re going to communicate with friends and colleagues. But you also have to be clear that if people prefer to work a structured nine-to-five at a desk, that’s fine. Flexible working shouldn’t force a different way of working on to everybody.”

Tailored to suit Vodafone UK head of enterprise

PwC partner Michael Rendell, who

going unless you’ve ticked the

services Tony Bailey agrees that

led the research, says pressure is

flexibility box,” he adds.

employers should beware of

rising on employers to respond to

Despite employers’ awareness of age

introducing workplace practices to

millennials’ needs. PwC found they

divisions and stereotypes, inclusion

suit younger staff that may isolate

value work-life balance more than

and diversity expert Charlotte

older workers. “Employers still need

financial reward, and see learning

Sweeney says too few take age and

to attract and retain the best talent,

and development as their first choice

multi-generations seriously. She argues

regardless of generation,” he says. “It


that siloing staff by their date of birth

isn’t about forcing all generations to

is too simplistic, and advises employers

work in the ‘millennial’ way – mobile

customise workplace training and

to take a whole-picture approach to

and hyper-connected – but instead

development to ensure all employees

design workplace procedures that

about implementing ways of working

access the learning they want.

meet everybody’s needs.

that suit your business, customers and

Rendell advises employers to

“Build experiences where people

“We need to think about diversity


can learn at the pace and in the way

in life stages,” says Sweeney. “You can

In 2009 Vodafone managers began

that is most effective for them, as

have somebody at the age of 30 in the

reorganising the company’s physical

we’re used to in our non-working

workplace experiencing being a parent

working environment. “Private offices

life,” he suggests. “You will fail

for the first time, but also have a guy

and permanent workspaces have been

as an organisation if you are not

in his late 50s having a second family.

replaced with shared workspaces and

able to offer a good developmental

It’s not necessarily purely about age.”

informal meeting spaces to foster a

experience for this current

Like Rendell, Sweeney suggests the

more collaborative environment,”

way to manage a diverse workforce is

says Bailey. “Employees are provided

by offering choice. This is particularly

with the tools they need, whether

experience is also more important

important when deciding what

that’s a laptop and/or mobile device,

to millennials than flexible working,

benefits to provide. Sweeney describes

depending on their role and function.”

which they expect as the norm

how larger employers have sought

rather than an extra. “But you never

to encourage work-life balance by

driven by the need to attract and

get the developmental conversation

offering on-site services such as

retain Generation Y employees.

millennial generation.” Rendell says developmental

He says this transition was partly

Flexible Boss: June 2015


DIVERSITY buddies older and younger workers in its employability programme, an initiative that offers people facing barriers to employment a work placement in the company’s stores. “We will often partner young participants with older, more experienced store members,” says Marks & Spencer HR director Tanith Dodge. “It’s great for the young participants as they gain a new perspective and find working with an experienced member of staff a confidence boost.” M&S’s workforce comprises 32% of employees aged over 50, 20% under 25 and 7% older than 61 – a composition that reflects its customer base, says Dodge. She says multi-generational workforces need not be challenging

“Many of our older workers aren’t ready to settle down into retirement ”

as long as employers communicate effectively with all staff: “We tackle this through a number of channels: we run quarterly employee pulse surveys to get feedback on the issues that matter to all our employees and this is

However, the company wanted to

older and younger employees operate

supported by in-store listening groups

make all its employees’ working lives

more efficiently and have a much

and conversations via our internal

“easier”. About half of Vodafone’s

higher customer service satisfaction

social network Yammer.”

workforce are aged between 30 and

rate than other restaurants,” she says.

impact on recruitment. Seb O’Connell,

49. Generation Z and millennials compose about a third, and baby

Generational diversity also has an

Flexibility for all ages

executive vice-president and managing director for Europe with recruitment

boomers and veterans represent 13%. “Our different way of working also

All McDonald’s employees are offered

services company Cielo, says the broad

allows all generations to achieve a

flexible hours, which Jones says

spectrum of employees means his

better work-life balance,” says Bailey.

suits different workers for different

team has changed the way it engages

reasons. For older workers this might

with recruits of different ages.

Bailey admits that implementing the

“People from a baby boomer or

changes was challenging. The remote

be to phase into semi-retirement

nature of work has increased pressure

or continue caring responsibilities.

Generation X really want to talk to

on the company’s IT managers and

For younger workers it could help

people,” he explains. “They may search

data security procedures. However,

with childcare responsibilities. The

and find jobs, but they will have more

the benefits include a 30% reduction

company even has one 90-year-old

of an alignment with dealing with a

in company real estate, 20% increased

employee who does two shifts a week.

recruiter and be talked through a role

workforce productivity, and “millions”

“Many of our older workers aren’t

earlier in the process. Millennials are

saved on property, energy and travel.

ready to settle down into retirement

happier to head a bit further along

and want part-time work to help them

using technology before they actually

heavily weighted towards Generation

earn a little extra cash to spend on

start talking to someone.”

Z and millennials, with about 70% of

their grandchildren,” says Jones.

At McDonald’s, the workforce is

its 100,000-strong staff falling into this

The company encourages transfer

He agrees that offering flexible workplace practices is key for all age

bracket. But HR director Lisa Jones

of skills between the generations, in

groups and urges firms to change their

says the fast-food company is aware

particular when introducing new

policies if they want to attract and

it must appeal to its 1,000 employees

technology and equipment. This

retain top talent. “People are willing

aged 60 and above. “Our research

intergenerational strategy is also

to trade elements of pay to get better

shows the restaurants with a blend of

used by Marks & Spencer, which

flexibility right across the board.”


Flexible Boss: June 2015

Job Design for Flexible Working™ Methodology Progressive organisations are working hard to embed flexible working for their diverse talent and in support of inclusive cultures. The ability to support these organisations in revisiting job design is an essential, foundational step – we need to understand and evaluate whether, and how, flexible working can be successfully implemented. Having a clear understanding of what will viably and realistically work (and what will not) can empower managers to be more open to flexible working and to think more creatively about how work gets done. Drawing on years of experience, Capability Jane Consulting (an Alexander Mann Solutions company) has developed a tried and tested methodology to assess what flexible working patterns are practical and commercially viable. Our approach combines leading practice job design principles with in-depth knowledge on the technicalities and success criteria associated with flexible working. In January 2015, Alexander Mann Solutions acquired the Consulting arm of Capability Jane, specialists in diversity and flexible working consulting and resourcing services. The now combined Alexander Mann Solutions Diversity and Flexible Working Practice, partners with clients globally to make a step change in the diversity of talent acquired, retained and progressed in organisations and to enable sustainable, agile, flexible and part-time/job share working cultures and practices.

The Job Design for Flexible Working Methodology™ has been translated into four core “bite sized” learning modules for HR, Resourcing, Hiring Managers and Employees, plus an online toolkit in support of the modules outlined:

Flexible Working Role Evaluation Methodology

Flexible Working, Messaging and Managing

Evaluating Your Role for Flexible Working

Online Guide to Job Design for Flexible Working

This 90 minute session provides an introduction to the methodology to establish which flexible working patterns will work for a role and which will not. We go through the process step-by-step and delegates will leave with a better understanding of the key factors to be considered when designing a role for flexibility or managing a flexible working request.

This 90 minute session for employees provides an overview of the principles of the methodology to help individuals establish which flexible working patterns will work for their role and which will not. Individuals will leave with a clear concept of the critical factors to be considered when putting together a request for flexible working.

Flexible Working Job Design, Influencing and Implementing

HR and Resourcing Practitioners will spend 90 minutes exploring the common barriers and objections to flexible working and how to overcome them. We consider how best to provide genuine flexible opportunities to attract and retain a more diverse pool of talent. We explore the most effective ways to communicate the methodology internally and maximise the impact for the wider business.

A 90 minute session for hiring managers on how best to communicate and manage flexible working. We identify common misconceptions and objections and how to overcome them, as well as the importance of “positioning” the arrangement successfully within the team. We introduce guiding principles for flexible working and the key considerations for managing expectations and performance.

Guidelines and a pre-recorded webinar, which introduces flexible working and the importance of job design, considers the options available and provides an overview of a step-bystep role evaluation. This is supported by a set of supporting documents including a role evaluation template, step-bystep example and “Top Tips”. This resource is designed to be hosted internally, providing a permanent resource that can be accessed by employees, HR, resourcing and hiring managers as and when the need arises.

For further information please contact Sara Hill, on or

Agile Working – Matching Resources to Priorities Today, the public sector is facing increasing pressure to do more with less, and specifically to manage with a smaller workforce. These expectations, coupled with the need to offer rewarding career paths for talented staff, have required the Treasury to become more innovative in the way it organises itself and its workforce. Its flexible approach to the deployment of staff has been accompanied and facilitated by the introduction of more flexible IT systems and a move to desk sharing across the entire organisation, both of which are reducing costs and further embedding the culture of flexible working to meet business needs. How the Treasury is responding to the situation specifically Flexible working has brought significant benefits to the Treasury and involves three distinct but interrelated practices: Flexible working within Groups: The Treasury is organised into Director-led groups of around 50-80 people as its main business unit; each group comprises a number of smaller teams, led by Deputy Directors. Within their groups, Directors and Deputy Directors are expected to find flexible solutions to new pressures as they emerge. Directors will then discuss with colleagues to ascertain where resources can sensibly be reprioritised between groups. This flexibility, which does not require any central sign-off or approval beyond the level of the group, may involve a reallocation of staff time for a period of days, weeks or months, and occurs on a regular or ad hoc basis.

Strategic Projects Pool: Around 2% of the workforce belong to a strategic projects pool and are deployed across the organisation to support the delivery of core strategic priorities. This innovation helps the Treasury respond to new pressures (for example: LIBOR reform, responding to the Heseltine Report) and strategic challenges. It also enables the organisation to strengthen project working skills across the department and provides people with an exposure to multiple different parts of the organisation, broadening their skills and knowledge. Crisis contingency: Up to 40 staff belong to a financial crisis contingency reserve, formed of staff who have worked on financial stability and related matters since the start of the financial crisis in 2008 but have since moved on to other areas. In the event of a renewed financial/banking crisis, this gives the Treasury a pool of people it can immediately draw on with relevant skills and expertise to bolster the standing teams – for as short or as long as required.

BU Y ER’S GU I DE Part One

Welcome to the Flexible Boss Buyer’s Guide: Part One Moving to an agile way of working can be a complex and daunting undertaking for organisations of all sizes. Knowing where to start and who can help you is the first step. Here we have singled out three of the areas that companies looking to change their approach may need to consider. Sponsored by

In the pages ahead you’ll find information on vendors in the video conferencing, time & attendance and office space sectors, plus their tips on how to modernise your way of working and ensure your organisation is fit for the future. Special thanks to our section sponsors Polycom, HfX and Neardesk. Heather Greig-Smith, Editor.




he march of millennials into the

conferencing, and screen-sharing and

in the next two years. “As firms change

workplace is being accompanied

web-collaboration technology are vital

the way they work from silos into

by higher expectations of

for their daily work with colleagues

holistic all-encompassing units, so will

collaborative technology – and greater

and clients. The 1,500 knowledge

employee expectations about how they

comfort using it. No longer a novelty

workers polled were aged between

engage and connect with each other,”

or a luxury, seamless collaboration

16 and 55. However, almost four in

says Robert Keenan, Unify’s UK &

is seen as a basic utility. But not all

every five (79%) were experiencing

Ireland head of portfolio management.

organisations are on board with

technology frustrations at work – a

“This isn’t confined to millennials;

this brave new world, and those

figure Unify says shows businesses

employees across the age spectrum are

uncomfortable with video calls and

have a lot further to go in aiding the

striving to find new ways of working

unwilling to embrace communication

productivity of their teams.

and collaborating. It’s up to the enterprise to enable this. If they don’t,

beyond telephone and email may find themselves left behind.

Growing influence

employees will simply circumvent enterprise tools and use consumer

In a recent survey, more than three quarters (77%) of UK employees

UK workers expect the influence of

applications instead, leaving you

told communications software

collaborative technology to grow: 62%

open to security risk and worse, the

provider Unify that tools such as

believe the need for these products

fundamental loss of productivity.”

instant messaging, video links, phone

and services will increase significantly


Flexible Boss: June 2015

Many of those who have been using

TECHNOLOGY collaborative software extensively

marketing for EMEA at video

find it hard to believe others do not

and voice conferencing company

appreciate the benefits.

Polycom, agrees that video is creating amazing transformations in some

“Despite legislative change regarding flexible working, many

industries, such as healthcare, where

organisations are still failing

breastfeeding clinics and diabetic care

to recognise the real value that

are being delivered using tablet and

collaboration tools can provide,”

mobile devices. “That will become

says Lifesize VP for the UK, Ireland

more and more pervasive,” he says.

and Northern Europe Andy Nolan.

“Video is becoming the lowest common

“Completing daily tasks has never

denominator for many organisations.

been more dependent on teams,

Most remote employees have video.” Donald McLaughlin, Cisco’s director

with individuals working with an

of collaboration sales in the UK and

average of 10 colleagues at any one time. Being able to communicate

Richard Ahlstrom: KNPO

device is crucial for any business that wants to be more productive and efficient. Businesses which ignore the value proposition of these tools will only run into communication silos that fail to offer the connected experience needed to fuel competitive advantage.” However, John Eary, director of JEC Professional Services,

Ireland, adds that individuals who resist these changes will be left behind

regardless of time-zone, location or

“There is a cultural dimension to communication as we are not talking in our native language”

and chief information officers need to take the lead in driving change. “We’ll get to the stage where people not using it are the exception and they’ll feel left out – they’re going to be quite lonely if they don’t turn their video camera on,” he says. “People don’t care what you’re wearing. They’re much more accepting of the fact that you have something to contribute.” Calder believes the next frontier in

works extensively with the public

collaboration technology development

sector and says many of the organisations he deals with still

comfortable. What people are often

is the dismantling of traditional

prefer teleconferencing to video

doing is talking about a document

structures and hierarchies in favour of

communication. That doesn’t mean

of some kind. You can share that

an agile and responsive teamworking

audio is replacing physical meetings.

document through the technology, so

environment. “We have pressed and

“The public sector is more 20th

the need to actually see people is not

pressed individual productivity to the

century in its thinking,” he says. “An

that valuable.”

very limit now and where we see the

awful lot of face-to-face meetings are still happening.”

Putting on a show

It’s a controversial point, given

biggest opportunity is in teamwork,”

how far some organisations are

she says. “It’s about bringing people

pushing the use of collaboration

together and making them more

software and video. At the April UC


Expo in London, keynote speaker

“We need to step up how we support

Eary adds that often people are

Marianne Calder, Cisco Systems

the new agile worker. We’ve all

uncomfortable with video when

managing director of collaboration

started using whatever productivity

working remotely, feeling they are

architecture sales for EMEA and

tool we’re most comfortable with and

“on show” and need to be dressed

Russia (pictured, over), highlighted the

have created a number of silos. Unless

to impress. In a recent survey on

example of Nationwide. The building

we are all on the same tool or app,

personality types and agile working

society is rolling out the use of video

we have a big challenge in sharing

for the UK Employers Network for

consultations to agree mortgages

information. We now need to allow

Equality and Inclusion, respondents

with customers – resulting in a 70%

teams to come together to discuss,

reported that video conferencing

increase in sales performance and 66%

create, share and recall.”

was not important to them. The

decrease in sales costs. Likewise, the

exception to this was the ‘influencer’

use of video by Airedale NHS doctors

for IT consultancy Portal, says many

personality type, 22% of whom said

and nurses for consultations with local

organisations are looking for a

video was very important.

care homes has reduced emergency

project-level replacement for email

admissions and trips to A&E.

communication. “Email has been a

“It’s a comfort thing,” says Eary. “If people are on show they are less

Tim Stone, vice-president of

Maria Casu, head of marketing

very effective productivity tool but is

Flexible Boss: June 2015


TECHNOLOGY Jeans, which allows users to connect to its video conferencing service using the platform of their choice. He says ubiquity of access is the key. “We’re seeing CEOs who will have meetings on their iPads in Costa – they know what they’re talking about isn’t that sensitive.” Matthew Finnie, chief technology officer for network and global cloud services platform Interoute, says adoption is all about the ease of simplicity. “There is no reason why anyone should get left behind. If you make it simple, simple, simple, then people won’t use the phone,” he says. Kids Non-profit Organisation (KNPO) uses the Interoute cloud service. The charity’s mission is to improve road safety for children in developing

“We need to step up how we support the new agile worker”

countries by distributing reflective beads for them to wear as bracelets, headbands and bag decorations. Because KNPO works across borders, video is crucial, says chairman and founder Richard Ahlstrom. Based in

also a victim of its own success, with

likely to drive organisations to be

Stockholm and San Francisco, the

email overload and the formality that

more forward-thinking when it comes

charity has partners and workers in

goes with email,” she says.

to technology. “People are not going

developing countries and a production

to want to go backwards if they have

team in China. “Asia is all about video

of ‘conversations’. We see companies

experienced the benefits of these

and there is a cultural dimension to

wanting to use collaboration platforms

really collaborative environments.”

communication as we’re not talking in

“People want to have different kinds

where email is a part of the platform

While video has been a huge success

our native language,” he says, adding there is “much better sound quality”.

but by no means the only thing. [They

for sales and marketing in the past

are looking for] internal blogs, wikis,

decade, she says we have yet to see

forums, informal spontaneous ways of

massive take up of video conferencing.

of telecollaboration systems developer

reaching out to different people.”

“We see the Facebook-style platform

Oblong Industries, has an even more

becoming much more popular, where

radical vision of the future than one in

of social media is creating pressure

people can write a short sentence or

which we embrace video conferencing.

for employers to replicate this in the

two.” However, a range of tools is

He argues that the industry needs to

world of work. “Email works well for

needed. “I can see video becoming

make a “quantum leap” from using

certain types of information but you

more mainstream. People can use

devices on a personal level to screens

get information dead ends. Emails can

their preferred channels.”

and devices offering “the collaboration

She adds that personal enjoyment

humans are capable of when they

be in an inbox for years and useful stuff is lost when someone leaves.”

John Underkoffler, chief executive

Security debate

don’t have computers in the way”. His vision is of large screens that

Whereas five or six years ago the real interest was in sharing files,

One of the most frequently-cited issues

connect and interact with all devices

Casu believes we have moved on. “It’s

with collaborative tools is that of

so that multiple people can work on

much more about sharing knowledge

security, and businesses differ on their

tasks simultaneously. “You should not

and wisdom, such as lessons learned

willingness to move from ‘on premises’

be held to the tyranny of the fixed

or certain expertise.” All of this is

solutions to the cloud. The debate

boundary of the screen,” he says.

tearing down the invisible boundaries

between providers continues.

between offices and geographies. Casu says recruitment needs are


Flexible Boss: June 2015

James Campanini is vice-president and general manager for EMEA at Blue

Perhaps video conferencing is child’s play compared with what may be coming next.

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Video conferencing: BU Y ER’S GU I DE Part One

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Time and attendance: BU Y ER’S GU I DE Part One

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Co-working: BU Y ER’S GU I DE Part One

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Childcare support pays off Sarah Jackson, chief executive Working Families


espite a series of

childcare can offer real

with work. Supporting

welcome political

benefits for employers in

staff childcare needs can

initiatives and

terms of both productivity

reduce the conflict between

considerable public

and engagement, which

work and family: research

investment, too many

we explore in our new

by Working Families and

working parents find their

publication Employers

the relationship guidance

decision about whether to

Guide to Childcare,

charity OnePlusOne

work, and for how many

produced with nursery

showed that those who

hours, constrained or

network Bright Horizons.

reported higher personal

even dictated by the local

Some form of childcare

availability of affordable

support offered as part of

also reported higher

childcare. And that decision

a benefits package can be a

engagement with work,

is even more challenging

competitive differentiator

while on the flipside,

for single parents, those

when it comes to attracting

heightened work stress can

working atypical hours,

staff. Employers offering

have a negative impact on

parents of disabled

such support can widen the

family life.

children, and those living

pool of talented individuals

in rural areas.

they recruit from.

We need to work towards

Employees who have

attracting, retaining and promoting women because

greater engagement with

they struggle to fit their

work have been shown

roles around childcare. A

a system that delivers

talented staff, parents – and

to be more focused, less

broader set of policies and

good-quality, affordable

increasingly, grandparents

distracted and to display

benefits around childcare

childcare to all working

– who are offered help

greater initiative, which

could enable employers to

parents when they need

with balancing their work

in turn can have a positive

retain women at crucial

it, while at the same time

and care responsibilities

impact on the bottom line.

points in their career,

protecting and enhancing

have been shown to value

It has been found that an

ensuring they continue to

the well-being of our

their employer more, and

engaged employee delivers

move up the career ladder.


consequently are less likely

43% more than one who is

Some initial investment

to move on to a role with a

merely present.

Working parents and the government cannot tackle this challenge


In terms of retaining

relationship quality

“Supporting working parents with childcare can offer real benefits in terms of productivity”

competitor. Better support in the

A further business

may be required to support employees with their

benefit of childcare support

childcare needs, but there

alone: there is a clear

workplace can also

for working parents

is a long-term pay-off in

role for employers when

contribute to healthier

is that it facilitates the

terms of engagement,

discussing the issues and

relationships at home,

advancement of women

retention and productivity

the solutions. Supporting

which in turn boosts

at work. Many employers

– and it’s hard to put a price

working parents with

employees’ ability to engage

still report difficulties with

on that.

Flexible Boss: June 2015


Keep pieces equal in age jigsaw Ben Black, Director My Family Care


uddenly everyone is

more vital to offer a bit of

Some organisations have

talking about multi-

flexibility. In addition, our

embraced the possibilities

generational human

parents are living longer

of more agile ways of work

resources polices. Why has

and often require help.

brilliantly. Others have not.

it become an issue? It’s all

There are now six million

about demographics and

working carers, with the

ultimately be about better

the changing nature of

numbers rising inexorably.

performance. It’s about


Then there is the fact that

Agile working must

happier, more engaged

Generation Y is arriving

employees working better

medicine, healthier

into the wonderful world

and more productively and

lifestyles and the glorious

of work with all kinds of

the business benefiting

NHS, the average life

different expectations

from the results. Wherever

expectancy is on an ever-

and aspirations about

you fit into the multi-

upward trajectory. And as

the boundaries between

generational spectrum,

we live longer, so we are

personal career paths.

you might appreciate some

Thanks to modern

working longer: 30% of the

Put all that together and

“If you offer subsidised emergency childcare, why not offer eldercare support as well?”

flexibility. The business has

offer eldercare support

UK workforce is already

you have to feel a degree

to treat everyone the same.

as well? Why should the

over 50 and that figure is

of sympathy for our hard-

The working grandparent is

employee who has to

rising. Pension ages will

pressed HR departments. Of

just as keen to play a role in

pick up his mother from

continue to be pushed up.

course, multi-generational

their grandchildren’s lives

hospital not be supported

Most of us need to carry on

policies and approaches

as the 22-year-old aspiring

in the same way as the dad

working in any case. And

are needed, but it’s not the

canoeist is to try and fulfil

who’s stressed because

we’re a pretty loyal bunch:

easiest challenge out there.

his Olympic ambitions.

conjunctivitis stops

why wouldn’t we stay with

There are three parts to

And third, it’s about

his daughter attending

an employer where we’re

the jigsaw for employers.

making sure that benefits

daycare? We are about to

appreciated and supported

The first piece is cultural:

help everyone. Different

introduce various working

and we have an impact?

ensuring the organisation

benefits will obviously

grandparent resources for our clients.

understands the challenge.

appeal at different stages

children later. Professional

Getting different age groups

of life and the career cycle,

parents are now typically

to talk and share their

and understanding some

performer whose favourite

four years older than they

different, but often similar,

of the challenges your

labrador is on its last legs?

were 30 years ago. Older

life-work complications can

employees face is key.

Don’t they need to be

mothers and fathers equal

work wonders.

For example, if you offer

treated the same? We’re

The second piece to put

emergency childcare on a

not there with petcare yet,

in place is flexible working.

subsidised basis, why not

but it may well happen.

We’re also having

more senior working parents to whom it is even

And what about the star

Flexible Boss: June 2015



Battle plan to capture skilled staff Aimee de Carcenac, consultant Alexander Mann Solutions


he war for talent

began keeping records in

cohort in the workforce,

is a very different

1971. The shift away from

but tapping into this

conflict today, and

recession has resulted in

group also creates

unsurprisingly demands

a more candidate-driven

opportunities for older

a tactical shift. Until now,

market – there is more

staff whose relevance in

for many, gender diversity

choice and opportunity,

your organisation might

has been the foremost

especially for those with

otherwise be dwindling:

concern, but progressive

niche skill sets.

we need to retain these

organisations competing

experienced people to

for top talent in an

this suggests, it can be

help millennials develop.

increasingly talent-short

tough for employers if you

We are seeing reciprocal

and age-diverse market are

have critical positions to

mentor programmes being

refining their attraction

fill and not enough time

implemented for this very

and retention strategies to

to grow your own. In

reason. It is a smart tactic.

this competitive reality.

fact, 60% of all new jobs


Your ability to offer

in the 21st century will

flexible environments

have seen organisations

diversity is another lens to

require skills possessed by

that appeal to a multi-

neglecting clash points,

apply to today’s workforce,

only 20% of the current

generational workforce

causing talented people

and finding strategies that

workforce. Supporting a

will make a huge difference

to jump ship for those

work across as much of the

growing enterprise is more

in securing talent in this

available opportunities

diverse talent spectrum

challenging than ever in

landscape. We know efforts

– especially as remnants

as possible really defines

the midst of what experts

to implement flexible,

of economic decline have

competitive advantage.

have dubbed a labour

part-time work and/or job

eroded loyalty – but this

shortage crisis.

sharing will pay off, yet

could be avoided: give

many struggle to embed

millennials intrinsically

The way in which people engage with the world of

Savvy employers engage

work has changed, with the

the full talent spectrum –

commercially viable

meaningful work; don’t

most palpable shift around

and flexible working is key.

practices. Flexible working

over-coach baby boomers;

demands for agility and

Employers are fast learning

adoption and the ability to

allow generation X-ers

flexibility. In short, flexible

that the ability to attract,

make the policy a cultural

portable careers and the

working cuts across diverse

engage and retain diverse

reality requires changes

freedom they need.

talent and all generations.

talent across generations

in processes, capabilities

When our clients adapt

will support hiring needs in

and behaviours. It needs

their approach, especially

a talent-short workforce.


through operationalising

The UK employment rate is 73.3%, the highest rate of people in work since the Office for National Statistics


Despite the prosperity

“Your ability to offer flexible working environments will make a huge difference in securing talent”

Flexible Boss: June 2015

For example, millennials are becoming the largest

With such a mix of ages in the workforce, we

flexible working, the results are fruitful.


We need to update attitudes David Dunbar Managing Director Workmodes


t’s more than 15 years since I took

the leap are the exception. Firms are still struggling

from home often delivers the most tangible economic

to implement flexible

benefit, neither of these

flexible working strategy,

working. It is not for

things should ever be the

and over 10 years since

want of trying: a lot of the

main focus.

I created the Workstyle

companies I talk to have

The main focus has to

portfolio of services to help

trialled it but have failed

be on people. And flexible

other organisations achieve

to get the level of buy-in

working has to first and

the same results. When

needed to embed it across

foremost be a “people

I launched that service I

the whole organisation.

change” programme,

responsibility for BT’s

thought there was perhaps

It should be easier

changing people’s attitudes.

“The focus has to be on people: flexible working has to be a ‘people change’ programme”

two or three years before

now than it was 15 years

flexible working became

ago. The concepts are

need a programme that

something every company

more accepted, and the

puts people first, but in

whatever the intention. It

did as a matter of course.

technology more stable,

my experience it’s rare

is easy to get waylaid by

In this, as in so many

sophisticated, and easier to

to see organisations walk

what looks difficult, and

things, I was wrong.

use. So what is going on?

that walk: the talk is about

lose sight of what actually

people; the effort is not.

is difficult. People, bless

So why am I still an evangelist for the concept?

Part of the answer is the focus on technology

It’s easy to say that we

Flexible working starts

them, are difficult.

as a driver, and property

with a vision of a way of

passion for promoting agile

rationalisation as a benefit.

doing things so vivid that

new technical revolution.

working are having the

Technology absolutely

everyone can clearly see

The possibilities opening

same conversations with

underpins flexible working,

what is in it for them. It

up as we shift from desktop

employers now that we

but the fact that I have

needs to be owned by

applications to enterprise

were having a decade ago

seen firms make a success

someone with real passion

mobile apps are vast. That’s

– but it’s not because the

of flexibility for 15 years,

and fire in the gut, with

before we get anywhere

message is falling on deaf

without recourse to current

the staying power to work

near the Internet of Things,

ears, or that the benefits

technological advances,

through the roller-coaster

wearables, or embedded

are unclear. The idea is as

demonstrates that the

that such culture change

intelligence. It’s a great

enthusiastically received

lack of it has never been

always delivers. It must

opportunity for firms

as it ever was, and indeed

a barrier. And while the

be rolled out across the

to look again at flexible

there are organisations

chance for a firm to make

whole organisation, with

working – but it will only

that have grasped the

savings by reducing its

enthusiasm, gusto and,

hit home if people are at

nettle in every sector.

property portfolio as a

if possible, joy. People

the heart of the approach.

But those that have made

result of more staff working

often become secondary,

Many of us with a

We are about to enter a

Flexible Boss: June 2015



Office old guard has to evolve Peter Thomson, director Wisework


eople are living

their predecessors with

juggling work and childcare

longer, so inevitably,

online discussion forums

responsibilities. And with

there will be those

and video link-ups. They

shared parental leave now

prepared to work into their

don’t see the need for a

a reality, the gender gap

twilight years. They may be

physical presence at work

will continue to narrow.

in full-time employment, or

when they can achieve

working flexibly or running

their goals equally as well

managers are typically

their own businesses.

by working remotely.

from a generation where

We will see 18 year olds

personal life had to

working alongside 80 year

older generation see social

be fitted around fixed

olds. And such a multi-

media as a waste of time

patterns of work. For the

generational workforce

and insist on cramming

‘millennial’ generation of

presents some management

everyone’s diaries with

twentysomethings, there is


inefficient face-to-face

an expectation that work

meetings. They might

can be fitted around family

managing output; instead

spread of ages at work, so

now use Skype in their

and other commitments. No

of clocking people into the

what is it that makes this

personal lives but they

wonder there is a mismatch

workplace and measuring

current trend so different?

still refuse to adopt video

in expectations.

the hours they put in at

One answer is technology.

conferencing technology in

The gap between the digital

the office. They are nervous

going to attract the best

measure the outcomes

natives who have grown up

about remote workers’

young people to their

from their work. When

with the internet and those

lack of visibility and are

organisations and retain

and where the work

who haven’t is vast.

comfortable working in a

them, they will have to

gets done will become

culture of presenteeism.

adapt. The rigid approach

the responsibility of the

to work will have to be

individual. People will be

We have always had a

Take social media. It has revolutionised the way


In contrast, many of the

Middle and senior

“The rigid ‘command and control’ culture will be replaced by a ‘trust and empower’ one”

Another generational

If managers are

the desk, managers will

some people communicate

difference is attitude

replaced by flexibility and

trusted to choose how they

with friends, family and

towards work-life balance.

a willingness to let go. The

achieve their goals and will

colleagues. They share

When ‘baby boomers’ had

‘command and control’

be free to manage their

views, send congratulations

their children it was likely a

culture of the 20th century

own work-life balance.

and celebrate achievements

mother would stop work in

will be replaced by a

without the physical

their younger years while

‘trust and empower’ one,

in leadership positions this

constraints of the analogue

dad continued to be the

designed for the 21st.

might feel like anarchy –

age. It’s hardly surprising

breadwinner. For today’s

The biggest change

but if they can’t adapt to

the Facebook generation

couples it is more likely

of all will be the move

this new world they will go

is more comfortable than

that both parents will be

from managing input to

the way of the dinosaurs.

Flexible Boss: June 2015

For the older generation

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Quickbite Seminars and Webinars QuickbitesTM from Working Families are a cost and time-effective learning experience for managers and all employees with family responsibilities. Ideal for lunchtime or breakfast seminars, the QuickbitesTM are also available as interactive anytime webinars. Each QuickbiteTM is based on in depth research and more than 30 years experience that will enable managers and working parents and carers to work more effectively.

“Working Families provides inspirational thoughtleadership on all aspects of how organisations and working families can thrive.” Cary Cooper CBE, Lancaster University Management School`

Each session can be delivered individually or in a selected series for a complete development program. They can be tailored for your organisation to ensure alignment and support to business strategy and existing employee development plans and training. Additional Masterclasses on a variety of business subjects are run and advertised separately. Specific bespoke sessions can be written and developed as required to fit with organisational needs or to assist with employee communication. We can deliver at anytime of the day to fit with business and individual commitments and needs.

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hen serial entrepreneur Jamie True’s late father Frank gave him a business

plan to reinvent the luncheon voucher, he wasn’t initially inspired. True Snr worked on the creation of the vouchers in the 1950s and could see the idea was ripe for reinvention. “I said it wasn’t relevant, but he said that’s why he’d given it to me,” recalls True. True’s mobile technology background and track record of launching, growing and selling businesses is impressive. He started his first business at 17 and in 2013 sold his app development firm Grapple to Monetise Create for £39m. Looking for his next challenge, and intrigued by the luncheon voucher idea, he began speaking to people about employee benefits. “I realised the model was pretty poor because it was old, unenjoyable and wasn’t really providing any benefits. HR teams didn’t really have the tools and technology to drive retention.” Fast forward two years and WorkAngel is a mobile-first answer to the employee retention problem. The app offers a private company ‘Facebook’ system together with a suite of benefits including store discounts, cinema vouchers and restaurant offers that sit alongside company-specific incentives such as childcare vouchers and healthcare policies. Employees can track their rewards while publicly thanking colleagues for their work and connecting with team members. Figures show employees are checking it an average of three times a day, making


Flexible Boss: June 2015


“In the past this space was a box ticking exercise – the technology was underwhelming. There is a seismic shift happening. It just isn’t good enough to give your employees stuff that is average” it a far more effective touchpoint than

Flexible Boss, a room full of HR and

employee of the month, but this is in

traditional benefit schemes.

benefits experts were impressed by the

real time,” adds True.

Ex-Tesco boss Terry Leahy has

experience – and discounts – offered.

The next step is growth. With coverage

invested in True’s company, leading

They went away both coveting the tool

of the UK, America and Canada already

a £3.3m funding round in January. It

personally and considering it for their

live, True is keen to expand WorkAngel

employs more than 50 people and its

teams. It’s no surprise staff take-up in

further – describing the rest of the year

impressive client list includes Capita,

firms using the app is 96%. “Everybody

as a “land grab”. “No-one else is doing

Tesco, the BBC and Serco. In the next

gets quite excited,” says True.

what we’re doing in this way,” he says.

few months True expects the number

As it is accessible on a smartphone,

True walks over to a pipeline board

of employees using the app to top

the app also offers a democratic way of

featuring a wishlist of clients’ requests


involving remote and mobile workers.

for additional functions. There are

True points to engineering firm Laing

currently 72 items. Next on the list

Tesco, uses the product. “I genuinely

O’Rourke, one client with a mobile

is the ability for line managers to

believe what WorkAngel is doing in

workforce. “You can make people

‘spot reward’ employees with gift

the employee recognition and benefits

feel they’re part of something even

cards automatically delivered to their

space is a game changer,” says Tesco

if they’re not in the office,” he says.

accounts. Employee engagement

Hospitality reward manager Nik

“You can find people in the colleague

surveys, debit cards linked to Work-

Butcher. “I can’t remember ever seeing

directory. It is perfectly set up for that

Angel accounts, and detailed analytics

a product that enables such creativity

and we’ve got a number of companies

are all on the schedule. WorkAngel is

in our approach to every aspect of

taking us largely for that reason.”

evidently stretching its wings.

Restaurant chain Giraffe, owned by

The product allows all workers to

So what explains the apparent HR

recognise their peers. “The recognition

euphoria over WorkAngel’s offer and

elements in driving retention: a

is ground-breaking for people, they

why isn’t everyone else doing it? True

discount and social experience that

really love it. A lot of companies do

attributes the company’s success to

rewarding and engaging with our staff.” True says it offers three crucial

employees love, a private company

the user experience – a result of a

social network where they can interact

technology company turning its hand

easily, and recognition linked to the

to benefits rather than a benefits

core values of the business. He points

company investing in technology.

to Gartner research which shows that

“Executing this kind of technology

people without a friend at work are

isn’t easy,” he says. “In the past HR

much more likely to leave, and says

managers haven’t had much choice

the product can reduce staff turnover:

and variety and a real platform to do

“Some of our clients have reduced

things. This space was a box ticking

churn by 20%.”

exercise – the technology was always a

One key to WorkAngel’s success, says True, is that the rewards and social

bit underwhelming. “There is a seismic shift happening.

elements sit together and are easily

It just isn’t good enough to give your

accessible: “If they are all in one place,

employees stuff that is average. If you

these things get used.” In a conference

are any kind of business, online should

demo of the product attended by

be important to you.”

Flexible Boss: June 2015





ound is something of an obsession at the UK headquarters of Plantronics, the international

audio technology company that pioneered call-centre, mobile, and noise-cancelling headsets. The engineers who develop the firm’s bluetooth headsets and earphones have a foam-lined sound chamber in the ground floor laboratory of the Wootton Bassett building into which they flow different levels of noise to test the quality of the products. When you step inside and the door closes behind you, it is so quiet you can hear the blood pumping through your own body. These days, noise is no less important in the upstairs office space. Divided into areas for ‘concentration, collaboration, communication and contemplation’, it is a masterclass in quirky design, featuring ‘monk spaces’ where single desks with backdrops of waterfalls and bluebells allow individuals to have uninterrupted work time. There are fringed curtains, moveable meeting pods and soft seating areas for informal collaboration. The walls – one of which is papered with a panoramic view of local attraction the Avebury stone circle – absorb sound instead of reflecting it, and different levels of white and pink noise are pumped into different areas. “We’re trying to achieve a hubbub of sound so that no one conversation interferes with your concentration,” says George Coffin, the firm’s real estate manager for Europe and Africa. “In the average office your voice will travel 15 metres. In this office it will


Flexible Boss: June 2015


“Most businesses believe smarter working means working from home. It doesn’t. It means that you can work in any space, any time, anywhere”

go no further than five, except in

Coffin says there was a lightbulb

for them and they preferred to be in an

meeting rooms.” Ceiling tiles absorb

moment when the heads of IT, real

office environment,” says marketing

90% of noise instead of the customary

estate and HR realised they were all

manager Clare Tibbitts. “You can’t just

20%, noise-bouncing screens are used

separately trying to achieve similar

decide that everybody will work from

between workers, and desks are angled

aims. This resulted in the three working

home – some people don’t have the

so no voice is in direct line of any other.

together on a plan that was approved

facilities to do that.”

This attention to the minute details of

by the board in just four weeks. “Most

The human resources team developed

acoustics and design is part of a much

businesses believe smarter working

an assessment process for both the role

bigger change. Five years ago the firm

means working from home; it doesn’t,”

and employee that included assessing

embarked on a programme to embed

says Coffin. “It means you can work in

home space; proposed working pattern;

‘smarter working’ in the business,

any space, any time, anywhere.”

impact on the company, colleagues

moving a mix of warehouses, lab space

The Smarter Working pilot began

and offices from three buildings to one.

with the Netherlands-based contact

From a 2009 base of 20%, the take-up

centre team – perhaps not the obvious

of flexible working in the business has

and HR departments – dubbed ‘Bricks,

choice. “We chose a really office-centric

now risen to 85%.

Bytes and Behaviour’ – and resulted

pilot group,” says senior HR business

in a sustained change that it rolled out

support manager Sarah Roxborough.

worldwide in 2012. So evangelical is

“If we were going to come across

Plantronics about the benefits of this

problems it would be with them. It gave

Roxborough says staff have changed

way of working that it runs open days

us a much deeper understanding of the

their working patterns to suit location,

for client businesses to come and see

issues that might come up.”

with many using their time working

The project united the property, IT

how it works and ask advice about their own flexibility journeys.

Some staff did not like it. “Half the team said working from home wasn’t

and customers; and equipment status.

Location dependent

from home for tasks that require concentration, and collaborating more intensively in the office. “People are encouraged to think about what they need to do and structure their working week so it works better. [They need to] look at the impact on the company, their colleagues and systems. How would they manage communications with colleagues and customers?” She adds: “We do everything on a trial basis for three months. Then we will make a contractual change, but it is always in the company’s gift to take it back if there are issues.” They have not yet had to do this. “We have had one person ask not to do it any more because they found it too lonely.” Effort has gone into developing

Flexible Boss: June 2015


CASE STUDY leap of faith, even at Plantronics where people are happy using headsets,” says Williams. Initially, both the PC and deskphone would ring, so workers could pick up either. A few months later, staff started to report that they weren’t using the deskphone. “After a year we reached the tipping point where there were more people without deskphones than with. Since then we have taken the

“It’s a culture of empowerment. People take much more responsibility for their goals and development”

deskphones away, but you really have to bear with people if they haven’t used headsets before,” he advises. Williams adds that it is important to have standard meeting room equipment so people can quickly use audio, video and collaborative software

manager skills and teaching staff how

and retain talent, and untethered staff

no matter which country, room or

to set goals, “which gave managers

from the Wootton Bassett site, meaning

office they are working from.

the confidence that they remained in

the firm can choose from a wider pool

control,” says Roxborough. “We have

of potential workers. Other benefits

a quarterly set of goals, milestones

include employee wellbeing, savings on

and benchmarks and our bonus and

travel and fuel, improved collaboration,

Managing the use of office space needs

performance system is linked to it.

and a more agile and responsive

careful attention, confirms Coffin. For

People didn’t take to it straight away,

business. The result, says Roxborough,

example, staff cannot book recurring

but we spent time helping managers

is a culture of empowerment. “People

meetings for more than 10 weeks, and

learn how to break down goals.”

take much more responsibility for their

those that are booked for this long

goals and development.”

are monitored by the IT and facilities

Plantronics managers are also becoming increasingly skilled at

teams. “The first day you don’t use it,

ensuring staff manage their ‘lifescape’.

significant as the business has moved

we write a polite email to say it is now

Roxborough says there can be a

to unified communications, says Tony

cancelled and you can’t book recurring

tendency for flexible workers to

Williams, director of IT for Europe

meetings for a period of time,” he says.

overwork, given the ability to blend

and Africa. Those spending three days

work and life and the fact that the

or more in the office have desks with

were drawn up at the start. “For

business operates across all time

two screens, while mobile workers

example, if I am in a ‘concentration

zones, so there is always someone to

can work wirelessly in a variety of

space’ you are not allowed to speak to

collaborate with. Managers need to

spaces. Like his HR and real estate

me, wave at me or acknowledge me.

know if too many outputs are being

colleagues, Williams says the process

Everyone knows and follows the rules.”

delivered as well as too few.

is complicated and requires time and

Measurable results

It is one of a set of regulations that

Downstairs, engineers from the

work to get it right: “Having executive

company that created the first headset

sponsorship really helps to drive the

used in outer space (moonwalker

use of UC.”

Neil Armstrong would later utter his

The business is saving £42,500 a

immortal “one small step for man”

Attrition has fallen from 12% to 2%

year by eliminating internal calls and

line through a Plantronics product)

and absenteeism is down from 12.7%

using Skype for Business instead. Using

are working on intricate circuitry

to 0.8%. Employee surveys show 95%

the same tool for all external audio

and experimenting with gesture

of staff feel they have a better work-life

conferencing is saving £50,000 a year,

technology. But a constant process of

balance and employee engagement is in

and getting rid of deskphones has also

experimentation and improvement in

the 86th percentile, compared with the

saved £50,000 annually.

ways of working – including current

The results are measurable and clear.

industry average of 69%.


The IT savings have also been

Managing space

When it came to replacing deskphones

efforts to develop training for virtual

The changes have resulted in real

with ‘softphones’ – software that allows

leaders – is taking place throughout the

estate savings of more than $400,000

calls to be made via the web – a phased

building and beyond. For Plantronics,

(£260,000), made it easier to attract

approach was necessary. “It’s a big

innovation doesn’t stop at the lab door.

Flexible Boss: June 2015

flexible working news, views and best practice Are you helping to change the world of work? Let us help you reach the right audience Flexible Boss provides independent journalism and research on flexible working in the United Kingdom and beyond. From policy to property; transport to technology; human resources to legal challenges, Flexible Boss is a resource for employers to come together and share best practice. Launched in 2014, the magazine is rapidly building a community of professionals across multiple industries within both private and public sector working to make changes in HR, technology and workspace.

flexible working news, views and best practice

flexible working news, views and best practice

Issue 1 June 2014

Issue 2 October 2014

march of progress

Head in the cloud

Right to request extended

fresh approach

Using collaborative tools for distributed teams

Job share: inside a Unilever marketing partnership

Shared parental leave

Technology security takes top priority as BYoD becomes standard practice

Navigating the policy minefield Line managers named as barriers to flexible working







Pitney Bowes: how an office move changed everything

Employers should use trial periods in tackling R2R issues

British Gas MD of residential energy Ian Peters on the caring agenda

Co-working: could it be the answer for big business?

Generation Y attitudes on flexible working colleagues

Lloyds Bank diversity director Fiona Cannon on workplace change

news: Agile Future forum plans focus: the ‘oyster card of desk space’

Issue one: 6,678 page impressions

NEWS: BARCLAYS in year-long flex push focus: Virgin holiday plan danger

Issue two: 15,012 page impressions

To advertise or discuss other commercial opportunities contact Adam Cox 07825 295 222 flexible working news, views and best practice




nlocking employee creativity can enhance organisational change and improve working

life. Interactive Theatre is a way of helping employees release inhibitions that prevent them from expressing their views, and encouraging them to engage in critical thinking. Using theatre to dramatise the issues and situations created by poor work practices, inadequate skills and missed opportunities encourages employers and employees alike to take action. Drama reveals all the tensions and problems that can exist in a business, while at the same time being fun and captivating. As a result, people are more likely to share ideas and have an open mind about the need for change. At Workplace Innovation, part of the UK Work Organisation Network, a not-for-profit coalition that develops and disseminates new ways of working, our theatre solution focuses on organisational practices and culture rather than individuals. It does not involve role-play, is not intimidating, and works for any size or type of group. Confidential discussions with managers and staff build a picture of the organisation and help to ensure that the theatre event addresses the issues that matter. Experienced actors then present their audience of staff with an intriguing set of relationships, challenges and dilemmas in a fictional workplace not too unlike their own. Audiences are invited to challenge the characters about their actions, motivations and working methods,


Flexible Boss: June 2015


“This isn’t role play. We take professional actors into organisations to work through dilemmas, give a voice to criticism, analyse the situations and change them”

and to suggest ways in which better

to give a voice to frontline staff and

of those who work there and translate

outcomes might be achieved. In so

that’s precisely why it’s so successful,”

that into a full play or short scenarios.”

doing, participants gain a unique

says Robin Reece-Crawford,

opportunity to reflect on their own

director and theatre animateur at

development consultant at Orbit, says

organisation’s practices and discover

Workplace Innovation. “People can

the experience has been valuable.

ways improvements might be made.

see themselves, their colleagues or

“We are committed to improving the

a situation they have experienced,

way we work by listening to our staff.

happening right in front of them.

This is important to us because their

The experience can address positive opportunities for innovation as well as long-standing problems and obstacles.

“Interactive Theatre offers

Jane Cousins, senior organisational

knowledge and experience is vital to

It is designed to help employees at all

employees the opportunity to examine

levels realise they can intervene with

issues within their own organisation in

BT has used Interactive Theatre for

ideas and their voice will be heard.

a safe environment. It begins a process

change management. Sharon Darwent,

the success of the business.”

of improving communications, gives

head of employee engagement, says:

the UK turned to Interactive Theatre

the chance for productive reflection,

“During the session, actors presented

as a way of improving performance

and allows frontline staff to share their

a very engaging play about a company

and customer care by developing its

practical knowledge about the business

going through change. Between each

200-strong management team. Orbit

– an often underused resource.

of the scenes, the audience could ask

One of the largest housing groups in

Housing engaged us to deliver a series

“This isn’t role play. We take

the characters questions, coach them

of theatre-based seminars on effective

professional actors into organisations

to behave differently towards one

team leadership and staff involvement.

to work through dilemmas, give

another, and explore what they could

Actors delivered various workplace

a voice to criticism, analyse the

do as communications professionals to

scenarios, which were then discussed,

situations and change them. We work

help the characters succeed. This way

with the audience offering solutions.

with organisations to find out what

of learning is hugely engaging.”

“This kind of theatre started in order

their issues are by hearing the stories

Theatre provides rich insights into organisational life and initiates a process of collective problem solving. Outcomes of performances provide a platform on which to further develop organisational learning and plans for collaborative action, including the identification of negative influences on staff motivation and workplace culture, and their effect on performance, recruitment and employee retention. It can also provide a negotiated action plan to address these issues, creating a new and sustainable culture based in employee-driven innovation. Peter Totterdill is director of Workplace Innovation

Flexible Boss: June 2015


Profile for Flexible Boss

Flexible Boss June 2015: issue 4  

Quarterly news, features and opinion on flexible working for employers. In this issue: the multi-generational workforce and how to manage it...

Flexible Boss June 2015: issue 4  

Quarterly news, features and opinion on flexible working for employers. In this issue: the multi-generational workforce and how to manage it...


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