One of the agendas of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) of Singapore is to decentralise business activities and commercial centres outside of the central business district. For URA, this initiative is a way to achieve a more sustainable growth by distributing business and commercial activities to various parts of the island.
In recent years we have seen a rapid development of areas such as Jurong, Tampines, or Changi. However, for some employees relocating a company is not mere change of address, it affects the daily work habits and involves a significant lifestyle change.
In situations where commuting becomes a problem, some companies should consider adopting flexible working practices that will address several aspects including the consummate use of the workspace, efficient management of time and increase the productivity of collaboration through applications and tools.
Having experienced a big move I can name three results of flexible working that benefit the company:
• Fostering innovation
As a result of the move to Changi, our different teams embraced collaboration through video conferencing fully to increase productivity and more effective use of our time. This meant that we exercised innovative ways to connect and solve problems rather than the orthodox meetings to discuss a problem before arriving at a consensus.
A survey by Polycom showed that 96% of businesses believe that video conferencing removes distance barriers and improves productivity between teams in different cities and countries. By enabling teamwork, removing physical and cultural gaps between colleagues, teams, and customers, we harness information and knowledge and these foster a culture of innovation.
• Increase in productivity
As collaboration tools are more accessible across a variety of environments and devices today,we are empowered to plan and execute our workday in a very productive way. We can strike a great work/life balance like never before.
We connect with colleagues, talk to partners and customers wherever we are, at a time most convenient for all of us. As we are not limited by the physical confines of a traditional office space at a fixed time of the day, we can achieve a lot more. I cannot imagine receiving updates from my colleagues in our headquarters only once a quarter only during a big internal conference.
By collaborating daily with your team the information is up-to-date and go-to market plans can be completed on time or even brought forward.
• Work/life balance = Happier employees
No matter how and where we work, we are ultimately measured on specific metrics. The empowerment flexiwork enables, employees feel more accountable to the company and as a result deliver on time and on specifications. They put in time and effort to achieve their goals, and even any extra effort that's needed in the process.
The motivation comes from the satisfaction employees get as they are not micro-managed or time-managed and have an open channel of communication with their managers / companies.
The company retains talent in the process. For me, I also get the satisfaction of being able to jump from my last meeting to having dinner with my toddler in a matter of minutes. That's priceless and I'm grateful.
A major office location shift doesn't have to be a stressful and an undesired change. If the company has a flexible working culture,the benefits to both the company and employees are real. It enables and empowers employees to be equally or even more productive than an employee in the traditional office.
With advances in technology, collaboration experience is rapidly changing to make flexible working a desired option, keeping the employees productive no matter where they are.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Weileng Tan is Head of Marketing for Polycom in Southeast Asia and is a true advocate of how video collaboration can enable flexible working. Since joining Polycom in 2009, Weileng has been responsible for all aspects of marketing in SEA. Beyond Southeast Asian markets, Weileng has managed marketing activities in Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.