UKs productivity is falling behind Europe
Businesses are keen to increase output per employee to help with the bottom line. It couldn’t be more important, since news that the UK’s productivity has dropped, which is bad news for the economy.
Germany, France and many other countries are outperforming the UK when it comes to productivity in the workplace, and while this is bad news, hopefully it will instil a little competition into the minds of business leaders. But when it comes to increasing productivity, are they looking in the right place?
I believe that flexible working is the best solution to the productivity problem. I’ll talk about my own experience, but you needn’t look far to see further proof – a report by Vodafone showed profits increase thanks to the practice, while Inc. reported stress increases without such practices, which in turn reduces profitability.
My flexible working takes its form in where I work. I live in South Lincolnshire but the company I work for, Fox Agency, is based in West Yorkshire. I spend half my time in the office, with a nice long commute filled with audiobooks, podcasts and TED Talks, and the other half working from home (or wherever I want to work from that day) which means I get to see my son while he is awake and help out more at home.
Home working vs office working
Here’s what I find when I am in the office… Great conversations, sharing learnings, brainstorming, creating incredible campaigns and largely a lot of thought creation. Not much ‘doing’ though. That’s why working remotely is so great.
While it reduces the aforementioned collaboration (although Slack, Basecamp and Dropbox mean I’m always connected to my team) I am able to focus, be calm and write the documents, send the emails, execute the campaigns that I need to. I can still manage my team with the tools I mentioned, and while it may sound old fashioned, phone calls work great too.
I haven’t exactly kept a record of the amount of work I get done – I feel that quantifying my work load is a step too far that will actually get in the way of being more productive – but I can tell you anecdotally that I absolutely get more done when working remotely. There’s just more head space.
There are simply too many distractions in the office – approvals, questions, interesting conversations – to write a report, distraction free, from beginning to end. At home, I can do this, in blissful silence or with a Spotify playlist providing my theme tune for the day.
So flexible working is most certainly helping with my productivity, and the reports I linked to previously help back this up – I’m not an anomaly, most people get more done when working in the non-traditional way. So let’s break the tradition and focus on the ‘work’, not the ‘where’.
Flexible working is a rising trend. Employees now have the right to request a policy from their employers, and I hope this makes people feel empowered to request the change. When businesses exist to make money, improving productivity through flexible working should be a no brainer.