Dave Dunbar has spent over 20 years with BT, most recently as Head of Mobility Consulting, and has been at the forefront of its pioneering work on mobile working. Now he has set up a business with two former colleagues to pool all the expertise they have acquired to help businesses create flexible work cultures and enjoy all the benefits that go with that.
Workmodes Consulting Ltd will help business develop their strategy, define their policies and structure their organisation “to meet the challenges and opportunities that mobility offers”.
Dave, who is a judge for Workingmums.co.uk’s Top Employer Awards, says that companies often think becoming more mobile is purely about technological fixes when it is more to do with changing people’s mindset. He will lead on people and culture change, while his colleagues will focus more on infrastructure, technology and implementation.
They are Alan Dickson whose expertise is in technological change and who has focussed on global multi-national companies ranging from large network standardisation programmes to rolling out mobile technology; and Sanjay Maraj, who has a wealth of experience in large and small businesses across the globe leading strategy, product innovation and portfolio marketing.
Dave says that the three’s combined experience has seen them work through “every twist and turn in the evolution of flexible working, from the focus on homeworking through to the need to focus on in-building flexibility, and from the growth of conferencing through to the rise of Mobile First and app-based working”. Mobile First is an approach to business technology that assumes smartphones, tablets and task-specific apps are employees’ primary tools for getting work done.
He adds that Workmodes, which will target small as well as larger businesses. will be different from his former role at BT. “We were advising companies on flexible working, but trying to sell them our solutions and networks. Flexible working was a Trojan horse to sell the networks,” he says.
The new business will not be selling anything except support for converting to a more flexible work culture. He says: “There are three things employers get out of flexible working – the ability to employ people wherever they are because they can work anywhere, improved efficiency and effectiveness through using mobile devices and improved customer experience.”
Through looking at companies’ processes and re-engineering them to be more mobile, he adds, companies can plan ahead better, ensure employees are on side and create a vision of where they want to be. “A lot of companies are really struggling to get a handle on how they can progress flexible working. They know they need to do it and they know the benefits, but they do not have the skills and time to make it happen,” says Dave. This is especially true for smaller businesses, he adds.
Firstly, he says, they need to work on creating a compelling overall vision and getting stakeholder buy in by showing what they will gain and addressing their fears and uncertainties. That includes creating a day in the life scenario for everyone from customers to sales people so they know how the change will affect them. He adds that it is important to get this right and not to adopt a knee-jerk reaction to flexible working. “If you don’t get it right the first time, it is difficult to go back and regain trust. You don’t tend to get a second chance with your customers. You need to be crystal clear about what you want to achieve and to have a road map for how you will get from A to B. Then you can think about the technological support that you will need to get there and how you reach out to your customers,” says Dave.
Much of that technology is currently cloud-based, but he agrees that things are changing so fast that it is difficult for businesses, particularly smaller ones, to keep up. Other issues include security when staff members are working remotely. “The whole network and infrastructure is changing. Getting a view on that is very difficult when you are trying to run a business,” he says – which is where expert external support can help.