The 12 days of Christmas may have come and gone, but the weather outside remains frightful. Even by British standards, 2014 has been a wet one so far.
With warnings of severe flooding across the UK, this is bound to have a great impact on businesses, and the smartest ones will already have the technology in place to work around flash floods.
As proven in previous winters, adverse weather conditions in the UK can cause massive disruptions to national transport infrastructure, resulting in as many as 20% of people unable to get to work.
Potentially, this could have a negative effect on a business' productivity and performance. With bad weather becoming a recurring problem, businesses should be incorporating a flexible working policy so there are no lapses in productivity.
This is where remote working through video conferencing can be instrumental. Offering employees the chance to work flexibly will not only minimise the knock-on effect of bad weather, but can also lead to a happier workforce.
Over the last decade, the number of home workers has doubled from 21% to 40%, and the number of employers offering flexible working arrangements for parents has increased from 28% to 44%, so businesses are already moving in the right direction.
At Polycom, over 90% of our employees are equipped to work from anywhere, including our head office in Slough or our hub in central London.
As the majority of our employees live outside the M25, we feel that they should be able to work from home too; and we also recognise that modern technology tools negate the need for many employees to always be on site. We find that they are actually more productive when they can avoid a commute altogether.
According to The Chartered Management Institute, the most common effects of the heavy snow storms last winter were staff unable to come to the office due to travel disruption or school closures, plus the cancellation of external meetings.
Some might underestimate the effects of severe rain in comparison to snow, but this is a mistake; schools and public transport are just as likely to face closures this winter.
Some businesses will bear the brunt of this; others will have prepared themselves with preventative technology in place. We just need to make sure we are weather-proofing our enterprises by making flexible working available to the entire workforce, all of the time.
- Tim Stone is VP Marketing, EMEA at Polycom and is responsible for the overall Marketing strategy and execution in the region as well as product marketing, partner marketing, vertical marketing, strategic marketing and marketing communications programmes.