Firms should introduce flexible working to retain staff and cut costs, delegates at a Communications Management Association conference heard last week.
Kieron Gavan, British Airways director of workstyle change, said the airline introduced flexible working two years ago.
Flexible working allowed BA to save 20% on its property costs and meant it could spend more in areas such as marketing.
"We found we needed a solid commercial business case and support from the board. But the challenge was more about people and logistics rather than technical problems," he said.
The move towards flexible working came after the company overhauled its corporate networks and IT infrastructure from 1998 onwards, said Gavan.
John Blackwell, chief executive of management consultancy JB Associates and a Communications Management Association member, said flexible working was an answer to the increasing competition for staff and rising office costs.
He also challenged the idea that staff could not be trusted. "An untrustworthy employee is untrustworthy, whether you can see them or not," he said.
Planning a working model
- Start by assessing how the workforce fits into work patterns - there will be different scenarios for various groups of staff, whether they are single men or married women with children, for instance
- Measure what hardware and systems functionality will be needed by each member of staff
- Consider modelling your workforce within various work patterns to enable detailed costing
- Plan a case for action to the board including figures of costs and savings. This must be on top of the accepted advantage of producing a better work/life balance.Source: JB Associates & Henley Management College