Workplaces continue to evolve. The needs of employees are constantly changing. It has never been so pertinent for businesses to adopt innovative strategies, become more flexible and address the emerging needs of their people and the new business environment.
Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) introduced an ‘anywhere working’ initiative last year across all five of its Australian and New Zealand offices, and has seen positive business and people engagement results. The initiative allows CWT employees to choose where they’d like to work – at home, in the office, at a café, or a mix of all three.
Currently one-third of CWT’s employees work from home permanently, with an additional 10-15% regularly taking advantage of flexible working opportunities.
Here are five reasons why your business should look at adopting an initiative like anywhere working:
1. Heightened employee productivity and well-being
Industry research from CTrip suggests that employee productivity increases by up to 22% when an employee is able to work from home. There is an upside from not having a commute but also from the peace of mind of working in your own space and not having many of the distractions found in the office. CWT’s employee engagement scores have also increased significantly over the past 12 months – up 20% and we believe our anywhere work policy has contributed to this.
2. Staff retention and recruitment results
Being able to provide people flexibility around how individuals work not only opens up access to top talent in the market – it retains top talent. Flexible working has allowed us to position CWT as an employer of choice rather than putting constraints around people.
For many employees, particularly working mothers, flexibility is paramount. Our people can attend sporting events at their child’s school, or a Mother’s Day breakfast and instead work in the evening.
When talking recruitment, anywhere working has enabled CWT to draw on a wider pool of talented people as the company can recruit in states where it does not have an office. We recently made a hire in Brisbane despite not having a local office there.
3. Significant cost savings
As a result of this initiative, CWT has reduced its office space by over 50%. The financial benefits attached to anywhere working have given us the ability to invest in other parts of the business that will add more value and, in time, lead to greater business growth.
4. Notable brand benefits
Adopting a program like anywhere working makes your company’s brand synonymous with flexibility, innovation, employee focus and choice. It also showcases CWT’s commitment to provide the best environment for employees. This can only be a good thing for business.
5. Great for collaboration
CWT has noticed an increase in collaboration and connectivity amongst employees since this initiative was launched. For those who still like to work in-house, none of the leadership team or executive team has an office, so employees are constantly engaging with new people.
What to remember
Make sure your culture will suit an anywhere working program. Businesses that are client focused and encourage collaboration are well-suited to this kind of workplace structure.
Remember to support employees wanting to adopt the initiative. For example, CWT uses a third-party health and safety provider who visits an employee’s home to make sure they are working in an optimal and safe environment. The consultancy will check everything from hazards and lighting to chair ergonomics.
Be sure to train your employees on how to manage teams at a distance. Flexible working conditions are a big cultural change, but the rewards are worth it.
Companies must also provide ongoing opportunities for face-to-face connection. CWT encourages its whole team come into the office once a month to celebrate birthdays and years of service. The regular face-to-face contact helps maintain workplace relationships and also ensures the continued success of the anywhere working program.
About the author
Angela Hicks is the Human Resources Director, Australia & New Zealand with Carlson Wagonlit Travel