Is working from home the key to productivity?

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As individuals and businesses of all sizes embrace remote working opportunities, the number of people working from home in the UK has swelled to an impressive 4.2million in the past decade. And this is a figure which looks likely to increase in time, given an additional 1.8million of us would like to work from the comfort of own home.

With 14% of the entire UK workforce now working from home, the question of whether it helps or hinders productivity has never been more pertinent.

The potential for workers to experience a better worklife balance, not to mention the savings for employers means a remote – and often freelance – workforce is becoming a very attractive option for thousands of businesses.

But how do workers themselves feel about it? Well, Work From Home Week, the organisation behind this research has revealed that 53% of workers feel they would be more productive if they were able to work from home – and without the need to attend unnecessary meetings in the office throughout the day.  

In addition to this, Work From Home Week claim job satisfaction and happiness increases among remote workers, who are given the chance to take control of their days in a comfortable environment.

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Giving freelancers and employees the freedom to work from home seemingly benefits businesses too, as workers avoid being exposed to office illnesses and lateness caused by the daily commute. It's estimated the UK will lose in the region of £300 billion by 2030 because of traffic congestion. Working from home eliminates this issue entirely, benefitting freelancers and employees, the companies they work with and the wider economy.

Conference calling specialists, Powwownow, echoed similar thoughts on the debate, revealing that 66% of workers get stressed out and flustered at least once a week by the commute. While Work From Home Week’s Founder, Adam Cox, called on companies of all sizes to embrace remote working should it be in a position to do so.

“Technology means that most of what needed to happen in an office can happen at home. While it won’t work for certain industries such as catering or building it certainly is viable for most office based sectors. We have found that productivity can actually increase significantly as employees are no longer experiencing the same level of distractions or interruptions.”

And it’s difficult to argue with the statistics. 70% of the people surveyed by Powwownow are more likely to want to work with a company offering remote working opportunities. That said, such flexibility is not perceived to be as important as salary, the research highlighted. Perhaps understandably, just 30% of workers would choose flexible working over a pay rise.

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The rapid rise of remote working does require careful thought though. 56% of those surveyed would like to see businesses manage it better, which might involve upgrading existing IT infrastructure and training workers on how to truly reap its benefits. 

Despite predictable but arguably solvable challenges, remote working looks to be an important component in the future of work, given that businesses and workers across the board are clearly experiencing its many advantages. 

Are you more productive when working from home? Join the conversation…

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Scaling up not an aim for majority of freelancers in 2018.

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While there will no doubt be a group of the 2million independent workers who harbour ambition to grow their business in the future, new research suggests that the vast majority of freelancers are fully focused on success as a one-person company in 2018 and beyond. 

As many as 7 in 10 freelancers and contractors do not intend to scale up their operations in the next twelve months at least, tax specialist Qdos Contractor has revealed.

Just 25% of the 640 freelancers surveyed intend to grow their business this year, and take the first steps in transforming from a one-person enterprise into a business with the capacity to outsource work and stability to employ people.

Commenting on these statistics, Seb Maley, Qdos Contractor CEO, believes independent working is a career choice that in many cases is misunderstood.

“There is a misconception that in time many freelancers and contractors intend to grow their business into large companies. This simply isn’t true, and is reflected by the vast majority of independent workers who plan to continue working as one person enterprises in 2018 and onwards.”

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The remaining 5% of freelancers surveyed indicated they have other plans for the year ahead, which include going employed and for some, even retirement. When asked at the age they plan to stop working, almost half (48%) hope to retire between 61 and 71 – close to the age at which workers can begin receiving their state pension, at 66.

Refreshingly, over a third (35%) of freelancers and contractors hope to retire and close down their business between 51 and 60 – suggesting that a healthy number of independent workers across the UK are benefitting from working self-employed and have the financial freedom to stop working earlier on in life.

10% of freelancers expect to be able to afford to retire over the age of 71, 6% between the ages of 41 and 50, while just 1% are confident they can stop working before they reach 40 - but then again, that's no real surprise. 

“That almost half of independent workers hope to retire close to the average UK retirement age suggests that freelancing and contracting is a sustainable career choice,” commented Mr Maley.

“Despite the challenges of working without employer’s pension contribution, freelancers can in many cases command day rates to retire at a similar age to employees,” he added.

Do you intend to scale your business or even retire in 2018? Join the conversation…

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5 predictions for hiring digital talent in 2018.

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As we head into 2018, five digital experts from various industries have each outlined their top prediction for tech talent to look out for in the next twelve months. The report, published by Stack Overflow, explores the trends shaping the current and future hiring landscape.

Dynamic and empowered teams 

As technology rapidly evolves, companies will continue building dynamic, adaptable teams with flat organisational structures to remain competitive, as Robert Eriksson, Head of Engineering and Digital Transformation at Lloyds Banking Group, explains.

“The banking sector struggles to embrace more modern ways of working. It’s a battle between a traditional hierarchal world, and the flat world of Agile. In the former, the strategy is set at the top, power trickles down and tight rules circumscribe discretion. This is pitted against decentralised teams with a focus on business outcomes, continuous innovation and empowerment of those doing the work.

"To succeed, companies need to adopt a new mind-set all the way from the top, with IT capabilities embedded in local business units to create self-organising and autonomous teams. Companies that choose to continue with a centralised IT structure will lack the necessary agility and responsiveness to stay competitive.”

Versatile workers skilled in AI and Internet of Things

Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things will be two of the most influential technologies in 2018, and employers will focus their efforts on hiring workers with these skills, claims Fiona Smith, Global Employer Brand Manager at Arm.

“We currently look for a wide range of software engineers; from low-level boot code, to operating systems, device drivers, graphics wizards and toolchain gurus. However, we also appreciate that we live in a world where technology has a huge impact and is growing rapidly.

“Therefore as well as specialists, we look for engineers who are well rounded and can adapt across skill sets, enabling us to be prepared for the technology of tomorrow. We further support and shape this through Arm’s model to grow our existing talent through our early talent programs.”

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Innovation in recruitment

A growing demand for highly skilled developers will mean the market for technical talent will become hugely competitive. James Milligan, Director of IT & Digital Technology at Hays, believes companies will need to evolve their hiring technologies to a simple model built to attract the most relevant talent.

“Despite ongoing political and economic uncertainty, businesses are optimistic and are continuing with their recruitment plans. For the IT sector there is an unprecedented demand that exists for skilled technology professionals, driven by regulatory changes, digital transformation projects and a continued emphasis on cyber security.

“The competition for talent in the sector is intensifying, and for employers looking at other ways to attract and retain skilled candidates is essential to avoid the negative consequences of skills shortages such as a decrease in productivity, low employee morale and hampered growth.”

An evolving recruitment model

To attract the best workers, companies must focus on the quality of the role they are recruiting for and place greater emphasis on communicating their brand values, Sandy Lacey-Aberdain, Head of Talent at Zoopla argues.

“We partnered with our executive team, HR, line managers and the whole engineering team to understand how we could drive efficiency and make the recruitment process more enjoyable for everyone involved. The result was that our message to market is a true reflection of who we are and what we do.

“We tell developers about the exciting work they’ll be doing - as we know this attracts them more than financial rewards. Detailed feedback is always given directly from our engineers, and our process is simplified to three stages which enables us to move fast and secure top talent who have the passion and desire to work with us.”

New efforts to spot and retain brilliant talent

The UK’s ongoing digital skills shortage will continue throughout 2018, making it vital for companies to recognise brilliant workers and then retain them, says Jack Villers, Talent Acquisition Partner at Just Eat.  

“We know that teams with a good balance of junior and experienced roles are some of our highest performing. A good mix enables us to create a pipeline of talent to support future growth and gives our people an opportunity to develop their own skills through the mentoring and training they do.

“We already run a successful grad scheme, and have recently launched a tech apprenticeship programme. Moving into 2018, we want to build on this by engaging with the potential tech stars of the future as early as possible, even before university level - visiting schools and colleges to talk about where a career in tech can take you.”

Do you expect the way you are currently hired to change in 2018? Join the conversation...

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