Planning for a more flexible, innovative and productive 2017!

Gary Hopwood, General Manager, Ricoh Ireland

The turn of the year is generally a time for reflection and resolutions – both at a professional and personal level. From a professional point of view, most people are looking at how they can boost their career progression and add most value in their chosen role. At a personal level, it’s typically a time to plan important activities and lifestyle choices in the year ahead that help to promote well-being, such as spending more quality time with the family and/or achieving your fitness goals.

One of the most significant contributing factors to both your professional and personal objectives is the working culture that exists in your organisation. A flexible and innovative culture that measures employees on the quality and output of their work, rather than by how long they are ‘clocked in’, is now widely proven and acclaimed to be the best route to success. Yet, many organisations in Ireland are still failing to facilitate more mobile and productive ways of working.

In December, we launched a report in Ireland called ‘Overhauling a culture of presenteeism at work’ which followed a survey of more than 1,000 adults in Ireland. The results of the survey were quite astonishing as we learned that 80% of Irish professionals admitted to faking their workloads by staying late in the office beyond their contracted hours, while 37% said they stay late regularly – solely to secure positive feedback from senior staff members.

This type of working culture is out-of-date and at odds with the digital age we live in. Irish business leaders need to embrace and instil more flexible ways of working in 2017 or their organisations will be left behind – particularly at a time when skilled workers are in such high demand. Providing employees with the platforms, tools and opportunities to work from any place and at any time has never been more so important.

People shouldn’t have to be stuck at their desks from 9 to 5.30 (and often much longer) if it negatively impacts on other areas of their personal and working lives. For example, more than half of those surveyed said that being able to work away from the office would help them to manage childcare arrangements more easily.

Of course, increased flexibility doesn’t just benefit employees, it can help drive profits. Our survey found that 45% believe that working away from the office would help them meet clients more easily, leading to increased sales generation and better customer relationships.

So as the New Year starts, we’re calling on the government and business community to act now and work together to encourage and embrace more flexible working practices for the good of Irish businesses, employees and the economy.  Promoting and enabling a better work/life balance for all, with an emphasis on productivity and innovation, should be at the top of the agenda as organisations sit down to plan for growth and success in 2017 and beyond.

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