BI and Tech

Business Intelligence and Flexible Working

In the UK new rules in relation to flexible working were introduced in 2014, increasing the number of employees eligible to make a request for flexible working.

The intention was to increase workforce productivity by reducing staff turnover and sickness-related absences. Many organisations already offer support to their employees which exceeds the current legislative requirements.

This is in response to the fact that over the last two decades the way we work has changed from an individual to a collaborative approach, and historic working patterns have had to adapt accordingly.

Flexibility in the workplace can have many meanings. Most commonly this refers to organisations being prepared to offer their staff a variety of options in terms of working hours.

This can include part-time working, term-time working, job-sharing, flexi-time and compressed hours.

By offering new ways of working it is also a good way to attract and keep employees as they know the organisation has different options to suit different lifestyles.

What are the main challenges employers face with implementing flexible working?

  • Demonstrating fairness between different employees
  • Problems communicating with the team
  • Inability to control workflow
  • The need to recruit more workers to maintain service levels

This requires a shift in management thinking from the belief that if you can physically see an employee at work, it equates to knowing how they are performing.

A better measure is setting objectives for individuals, so that performance can be monitored against output.

This way managers remain aware of team performance, even if the team members aren’t always physically in the same place.

What are the main concerns employees have when requesting flexible working?

  • Will the improved work/life balance enable me to perform?
  • What is the impact of additional costs that may be incurred?
  • Can work be reorganised among other employees?
  • Am I likely to become less visible to the organisation?
  • Is there likely to be a detrimental impact on quality or performance?
  • Are there any planned structural changes that may impact this request?

Measuring Performance

Organisations will perform better when the data is measured and shared.

This allows organisations to monitor the effectiveness of the new approach and improve the quality and efficiency of operations.

By creating KPIs for individuals and then sharing this information with them it will help people remain focused on their tasks.

Sharing information among team members, even if they are not in the same physical location, will improve team-based communication of shared goals and keep everyone in touch with each other.

If flexible working is expanded to multiple teams or departments, organisations need an effective way to manage a wide variety of KPIs, tasks, objectives and goals for individuals, teams and departments.

Any system implemented also needs to be able to take advantage of new technology, such as tablets and smart phones, as many people work on these devices when on the move.

Self-service business intelligence has a clear role to play in enabling this to happen.

Business Intelligence Software

If organisations can effectively show the benefits of flexible working then it will become a more widely accepted. To help achieve this business intelligence software can provide organisations with:-

  • An effective way to measure and present large amounts of data in an easy to read format
  • A simple self-service method for individuals to see their performance against KPIs
  • A clear method of seeing how individuals, teams and departments are performing in real time
  • Bring together data from multiple sources in one place to look at cost /benefit analysis
  • A way to access data 24 x 7 x 365 via PC, tablet or smart phone
  • A proactive way of alerting individuals, or the business, in real-time of significant changes
  • Provide staff employed only for a short period of time with the same tools, allowing them to participate fully and engage with the business
  • A method of monitoring a variety of KPIs, SLAs and wider targets in one place

Flexible working can also improve the morale of staff which decreases sickness and absence and attracts new employees to the business as it is seen as forward thinking with a culture of flexibility and creativity.

Some of the most successful organisations in the world have what most businesses would see as unusual working practises, such as Google, and yet they’ve continued to excel.

Flexible working is the first step to creating a new culture but to make it feasible in the long term an organisation must have the right tools at its fingertips to constantly measure and improve its efficiency to remain competitive.