new_luddite1-300x246“Flexible IT policies such as the ability to use technology to work from home or use social media play a major role in overall employee satisfaction and retention. Employees without access to flexible IT policies are less satisfied with their job. Only 62% of employees without access to flexible IT policies report feeling satisfied at work. Up to 83% of employees with access to flexible IT policies (such as social media access) report feeling satisfied at work.” – The Connected Workplace – War for talent in the digital economy – Deloitte

More recent evidence that unless you start moving from your old style “command and control” IT Department to the new flexible ICT Service Management ethos, your business is going to lose skilled staff. In a world where we aren’t producing enough skilled ICT workers the battle to gain the good ones is intensifying and by adopting some new world thinking you’ll get them.

Flexibility suits ICT people down to the ground and what we are seeing is that flexibility is not just the ability for your team to work from home one day a fortnight, it’s a whole lot of things.

It means giving ICT staff the ability to work wherever, whenever. This means throwing out the “you must be in the office” rule that is seeing dinosaurs like Yahoo and Hewlett Packard starting to stagger backwards into the wilderness. Telling your ICT staff they must work on the clock from a desk is a serious no no.

It means BYOD: “This means giving employees the opportunity to use cutting-edge devices – or their devices of choice – flexibility about the platforms and applications they use.”

It also means that you need to give your ICT employees access to all forms of Social Media. Again, the evidence suggests that adopting this flexible working style will retain your staff, attract new staff, keep staff happier, allow for more innovation, increase your productivity, and reduces costs in a number of areas as a consequence.

Part of this is being driven by the rapid adoption of technology from a slightly younger workforce versus the dinosaur systems that we offer in the workplace. Our home technology is far more up to date than our work environment, our personal tools are a lot more user friendly than the grey PC sitting on our work desk, and internet access from our 4G and home connections far outstrips a company connection, not to mention its more open, free, and without the hinderance of whatever censorship our organisation has deemed necessary via a firewall.

Perversely, there is a significant increase in collaboration between ICT staff in companies that have easy and flexible working policies. Clearly, giving people the freedom to come and go as they please while using the tools that suit them is paying dividends for brainpower. This also dispels the myth that working from home decreases collaboration due to lack of social interaction.

Allowing employees free access to browse the internet rather than having choking policies about what can be viewed, what can’t be viewed, the HR department sending usage reports to managers and heavy censorship is empirically better. As is increased bandwidth.

In an environment where there are no restrictions on personal internet use, productivity was measured at 9% higher than those with restrictive policies. There is also a strong link between internet speed, availability, and productivity.

New Zealand is lagging. In Australia, more than half of the firms surveyed allow employees to bring their own devices to use at work, whether laptop, smartphone, or tablet. How many New Zealand firms can say the same?

The report goes on to provide a very high-level roadmap of how this can be achieved and in summary:

“Technology plays an important role in an organisation’s HR strategy. Handing out tablets to employees is not necessarily going to increase their engagement and productivity at work. However, a clearly planned and strategic approach to rolling out digital technologies is likely to make employees feel involved, inspired and ultimately more engaged with the business.There is a clear imperative for action now since the survey results in this report illustrate that companies that do not offer up-to-date digital technologies for staff will fail to attract talent or will lose existing staff.”

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