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Out-of-office guilt means bosses miss out on networking

Business decision makers are missing out on important networking opportunities because they feel guilty about being out of the office, it was claimed today.

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Business decision makers are missing out on important networking opportunities because they feel guilty about being out of the office, it was claimed today.

Some 81% of SME business leaders said they willspend less time out of the office during the party season because they feel guilty about doing so. This is despite 76% believing that networking is more important than ever during an economic downturn.

A survey of 500 SME business leaders by Vanson Bourne, sponsored by T-Mobile, revealedsome of the challenges they face as the economy slows down."SME business owners believe face-to-face contact is more important, reducing business networking in a recession could impact their ability to reinforce existing relationships and cultivate business leads," said the report.

Oliver Chivers, head of business marketing at T-Mobile, said businesspeople should not feel guilty about networking, and mobile technologies mean that workers can continue to do office work when out of the office.

"Blackberries, PDAs and mobile broadband technologies enable employees to work on the move and remain in touch with colleagues and customers wherever they need to be, so there is no reason for business owners or their staff to feel guilty about being out of the office," he said.

Entrepreneur James Caan of Dragons' Den fame and CEO of private equity firm Hamilton Bradshaw, said the concept of mobile technology by default makes your people more productive and more available. "I actively encourage my team to get out and meet business partners and prospects as much as possible, as I know this will not impact productivity or mean we are any less available to make important business decisions," he said.

Flexible working is also good for staff moral. Findings from a survey of 1,080 people by The Work Foundation and Microsoft last year showed that 50%would be happier if there was a greater element of mobile working in their jobs and 16% said that they would leave their jobs within six months if their boss was not open to flexible working.

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