Leeway Builds Loyalty

Despite the quest to seek a perfect work-life balance, only a handful of organisations have found an acceptable definition of the concept and a practical strategy to execute the ideology so far. However, having started as early as 1986, British Telecomm (BT) is one company that has been at the forefront of flexible working. Today, it has nearly 75,000 employees with means to work flexibly.

In Singapore and across the Asia-Pacific region, a large majority of BT’s workforce has the “technology enablement” to work flexibly. From an employee perspective, working flexibly gives them the opportunity to meet needs previously considered as conflicting. “In achieving their desired work-life balance, most people discover not only renewed energy, but new enthusiasm and reward in their work and their other commitments,” says Vicky Chai, senior HR manager, Resourcing, BT Asia Pacific.

Interestingly, for employers, employees who work flexibly have been shown in validated, quantified surveys to demonstrate higher levels of commitment, motivation, and job satisfaction, and lower rates of absenteeism and staff turnover.

Going back to its roots, BT in the UK is a pioneer in the ‘Home Worker’ concept, Chai shares. It is a strategic partner of Work Wise UK, a three-year initiative which aims to encourage the widespread adoption of smarter working practices. Typically, a home based worker in BT will work from home most or all the time and will not have a dedicated desk, or other office space in a BT building. They are fully equipped with the necessary equipment and technology that enables them to perform their job at home.

Outside the UK, however, there are administrative and compliance obstacles to successfully implement the ‘Home Worker’ concept, though other flexible working arrangements are possible, Chai underlines. In Singapore, for example, BT employees are equipped with dedicated desks, and have the option of flexibly working from home if the situation calls for it.

Points to Ponder
• Productivity: BT have seen improved productivity in some areas of home-working of around 20%
• Medical Leave: A flexible workforce takes less time off sick. BT home workers take on average just three days a year off sick
• Environment: Less commuting benefits the environment as well. The policies have saved 12 million litres of fuel, at a cost of £10m, and reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 54,000 tonnes

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