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Technology has changed all our lives. It enables us to work flexibly, work on the move, work at home and stay in touch outside of traditional office hours. What is the effect of this level of connectivity? Is it a pro or a con?
Workingmums.co.uk is running a survey, sponsored by BBC Future Media, on the impact of technology on working lives.
The questions cover everything from whether technology has enabled respondents to work longer hours, whether they use technology like Skype or conference calls for work and what their experience is of these, what an employer could offer to better enable working from home, what kind of technical support is available to them if they work from home and what the main benefits of homeworking are.
Also included are questions about use of cloud-based systems, whether they have done online training and whether they feel the presence of smartphones and like impinges on family life or is more of an advantage than a disadvantage.
The questions cover broader issues such as whether the gender make-up of an organisation’s leadership team influences whether they will apply to it and there are questions for those working in the technology sector about any obstacles they may have encountered in their work.
The questions apply equally to those who work for an organisation and for the self-employed or those who are not currently working.
The survey aims to find out what the impact has been of technology on working mums’ lives, how they use it, whether it can be improved and what might enable them to work smarter in the future.
Although it has been a key enabler of mobile working, many argue that the most important requirement for a change in our working culture has more to do with transforming the culture and mindset of an organisation.
For instance, a year after O2’s experimental flexible working day in 2012 where employees at head office were asked to work remotely for one day, business consultant Nick Makin said:
“I think all of us have learnt that flexible working is not just about the technology, but preparing people for it. And that’s often about training the organisation as a whole that to make flexible working successful, it has to trust its people will still perform their duties.
Companies have always based their assumptions on productivity on attendance figures, log on rates and things like that – but that doesn’t actually do you any favours. What’s important is what your people do, which can easily be measured.”
However, when mindset and technology are combined all sorts of more flexible options are possible, including virtual businesses, such as Archie & Doris, an accountancy firm where accountants work remotely.
Founder Marcus Warry says he wanted to build a virtual business which he could run “from a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean”. “I wanted something that would allow me and my colleagues to work from anywhere in the world,” he says.
For big businesses, such as Unilever, rethinking work culture with the aid of technology has led to a downsizing of office space and a move to an agile working culture which has brought big savings.