How Flexible Working Changed My Business


My Story

A few years ago, a long standing and very much valued employee of mine came to be with a suggestion. Like so many others before her, she’d spent years building a successful career… then she had a baby and everything changed.

She faced the same trauma that most mothers do – how was she going to juggle going back to work and still be the kind of mother she want to be?

We work in marketing and it had dawned on her while mulling it all over that a lot of what she did could be done from home. If she could get me to agree to it, she could work in the evenings while her baby slept, maintain the career she’d worked hard for and still embark upon her new journey as a mother.

Security concerns in flexible working

As her employer, I did want to support her in her dream of being a mother and continuing her career. She’d worked for me tirelessly for many years, I had no doubts about her commitment or her desire to complete her workload. I certainly didn’t want to lose her, but my main concern was IT security.

My budget was already overstretched. The prospect of installing and maintaining systems to support her working from home or on the move seemed a massive headache. I explained this to her, but agreed that if I could find a cost effective solution to the problem before her return to work, then I would give her a flexi-working contract.

Luckily, she initially spoke to me many months before she was due to return, which left me plenty of time to research.

What I discovered was when companies allow employees to work remotely, they are effectively widening the parameters in which hackers can enter. For a company, it would make no business sense to only secure a part of your parameter. Therefore, if you choose to allow your staff to work in this way, you need a whole new security system in place.

Changing times

In a survey completed by Microsoft, they found that IT security is the main barrier to the adoption of flexible working practices. Three quarters of the companies they surveyed expressed concern about the security implications of flexible working.

But with the demand for flexible working ever increasing, employers would be foolish to bury their heads in the sand.

I also discovered that businesses that had put these new systems in place to accommodate flexible working were seeing a marked improvement in efficiency and an increase in turnover as a result!

So how do companies ensure that only authorized users have access to confidential corporate data while working away from the office?

There are two areas that a company must consider to ensure secure mobile connectivity.

* The way in which information is delivered to employees

* The various products and technology available on the market.

The problem is that for most of us, regardless of how expert we might be in our own fields, this mainframe jargon goes completely over our heads! So to try and implement these systems myself would be so incredibly costly in terms of time and I would not be confident that I’d completed the task sufficiently.

So is there a solution?

I was loathed to start looking into products and services to help find an answer to the problem. Ideally I wanted a solution that wasn’t going to cost me anything! But I found that there are quite a few good terminal emulation software providers out there that will take care of these issues for you and it really doesn’t cost as much as you might think!

Happy ending

Long story short? I went for it, and 3 years later we could not be happier.

My employee managed to be there for her daughter every step of the way. She’s never had to miss any of her firsts and she got to be exactly the mum that she wanted to be.

She’s also maintained her career at exactly the same standard she always did. She works the same number of hours, she just works them at different times! It’s difficult for her, but she feels it’s worth it.

And I’m happy too. I did pay out a small cost initially, but to have her back at work and happy, it was a small price to pay. Without offering flexible working, the reality was that I could have lost an experienced and reliable member of staff.

In the 3 years since I implemented the new remote security systems, the company has grown immensely and the fact that I have these systems in place means I am able to offer flexible working to the majority of my staff. It has also meant that our sales people on the road are able to access corporate information in a tap, which has definitely contributed to increasing our sales.

As the statistics predicted, we certainly have seen an increase in effectivity and the company is flying high, which I’m sure can’t be attributed solely to the mobilisation of the mainframe . . . but it certainly contributed!

Bio: Becky Young is a business consultant specializing in PR, social media marketing, website design and SEO. She is the owner and founder of two businesses and also freelances as a writer.