Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Whether or not you're stationed in London for the Summer Games, things around the office tend to look and feel a bit different when the competition is in full swing. Call it the Olympic spirit, if you will, but these two weeks introduce a number of unique considerations that don't seem to be an issue during the rest of the year.
British commuters are certainly feeling the strain as they either brave the crowded streets and subways or figure out a way to work from home. Then there are the casual fans around the world trying to stream live video in the office or get home a little early to watch the action on TV.
One surprising thread uniting this discussion seems to be the growing interest in and support for flexible work arrangements. But instead of dismissing this topic as an Olympic anomaly, companies would be wise to explore how such strategies could benefit their operations year-round.
Flexibility becoming necessity
London is the obvious place to start the discussion as both civic officials and corporate executives have been working out the logistics for months. From rerouted traffic patterns to staggered work schedules, it has hardly been business as usual in the city of the Summer Games. But as employees have been forced to investigate alternative plans, more than a few have been intrigued by the experience.
In a recent survey of nearly 1,100 U.K. business professionals conducted by telecommunications service provider Powwownow, approximately six in 10 respondents identified remote working as "the way forward" for their organization.
The benefits are expected to cut both ways as well, with employees appreciating the freedom to set their own hours and office managers anticipating reduced operating expenses.
"It will be interesting to see what impact this summer has on those businesses that allow flexible working to cope with the increase of people in our capital and whether as a result of this, people start to integrate remote working much more into their business ethos," said Powwownow CEO Simon Curry.
Olympic commuters may represent a unique case, but the takeaways extend far beyond Britain's borders. From companies operating in congested urban centers to those managing a distributed workforce across a rural region, many are seeing the value in making centralized resources available to remote collaborators.
Technology innovations continue to accelerate this trend, as online storage environments and fileshare platforms release business assets from the shackles of the central office and enable employees to work in their preferred style.
Connecting the global workforce
The Olympic season also offers unique insight into the challenges and triumphs of international collaboration. It's hard to imagine an event with as many moving parts as the Olympic Games, and companies overseeing a globally distributed workforce can certainly empathize on a certain level. With business partners, and even everyday teammates, potential stationed across several time zones and continents, connectivity is key.
As Hawaii-based business executive Darius Monsef explained in a recent interview with Fast Company, success does not happen by accident when employees are spread all across the globe. Instead, intelligent strategies and policies are required to keep everyone on the same page.
Technology has been an invaluable asset for Monsef, as he uses several online collaboration tools to keep in touch with both long-time partners and potential future clients.
"When you're all in the same office, you can peek over and see where somebody is at with something," Monsef told the magazine. "When you're across the world, you either need to bug them with messages or ask them to update you every step along the way. Trust becomes very important."
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