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Flexible working ‘to see the rebirth of the office’

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The Olympics could be the catalyst that many companies need to reinvent the office, it has been claimed.

Jacobina Plummer, agile working programme lead at Unilever, said this summer has seen many companies adopt a new flexible approach to working that benefits both employees and business.

In order to avoid overcrowded transport links in the capital, many employers asked their staff to work from home or another remote location.

And this has showed that flexible working is not merely the preserve of large companies with advanced IT infrastructure and well-resourced technology.

Even small companies can allow employees to work at home and on the move using solutions such as personal smartphones, Skype and cloud computing, Ms Plummer said.

In her view, employees should be empowered to choose how, where and when they work, providing they are able to meet the targets outlined by their employer.

“This culture change means removing the artificial measures of success, such as time and attendance, and focusing on results and performance,” she noted.

But the office still has a role to play in business, Ms Plummer claimed.

She said flexible working can lead to the rebirth of the office – rather than its protracted death.

“The purpose of today’s office is to bring people together, in spaces designed around activity, with the emphasis on collaboration and the absence of assigned desks,” Ms Plummer suggested.

“It can’t be about forcing people away from the office, but providing them with choice around where they work.”

Businesses which embrace this change, using hot desking and mobile working techniques, can see greater productivity, reduced impact on the environment, a measured increase in engagement and productivity scores, and greater success attracting and retaining talent.