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22 million UK workers looking for new roles as demand for flexibility soars

Two thirds of UK workers plan to make changes to their careers in the next 12 months, according to a new study published by Aviva.

This is an increase of five percentage points, compared to the previous study compiled in February 2021, and indicates that 22 million workers are seeking some sort of change.

The intended changes vary greatly, ranging from reducing hours, to moving roles within an organisation, to choosing a different career path completely.

The number of people planning to set up their own business has increased from 6% to 8% since July 2020 – now equivalent to around 2.7 million workers – while the proportion planning to get a similar role in a different company has risen from 5% to 8% over the same period.

The proportion of workers planning to retrain or learn new skills now stands at 11%, although this figure increases to 15% among those aged 35-44, suggesting people are taking stock of their careers. A similar situation is true for those wishing to take a different career path: 9% of workers overall, but 14% of those aged 25-34.

The study also provides an insight into how the last two years have changed working patterns – and how colleagues feel about this situation.

Overall, employees believe the pandemic has had a positive effect regarding flexibility at work. Two thirds (66%) say recent events have helped companies to improve their approaches to flexible working.

There are certain aspects of employment that people now class as ‘deal-breakers’ when it comes to flexibility.

The option to vary daily hours across the week is the most common ‘deal-breaker’, with one in five workers classing this benefit as “essential” when looking for a role. This is closely followed by the ability to work from home some of the time (18%) – and even the option to work from home all of the time, the request of 15% of employees.

Other deal-breakers include the ability to reduce to part-time hours (14%) and being able to take leave to volunteer for worthy causes (9%).

As a general rule, people in the 25-34-year age bracket are most likely to view these benefits as essential to their role, although the request for childcare flexibility is common among the 25-44 age group (23%) and the desire to work from home some of the time is critical for one in five people aged 25-54.

However, the need for a “duvet day” is most common amongst under-25s – a deal-breaker for 15% of people in this age group.

Nicki Charles, Retail MD, Customer, Aviva General Insurance, said: “Although flexibility at work was growing in popularity before the pandemic, the Covid-19 outbreak has expedited progress. Benefits that were once seen as luxuries are now being viewed as essentials.

“While the pandemic has been devastating in so many ways, people are seeking out silver linings and a more progressive approach towards working is just one of these outcomes.

“After working at home for many months, some people will inevitably take time to adjust to the return to the workplace. But hybrid working enables the best of both worlds and doubtless is here to stay.”

Don’t neglect electrical testing for home workers

Businesses are being reminded of their legal obligation to ensure electrical equipment is safe to use at all times, even when being used by workers at home.

It comes as Dan Lee, Managing Director of phs Compliance, one of the UK’s leading providers of facilities management and compliance services, warns that many businesses are potentially not ensuring full compliance as staff continue to work from home.

He said: “The pandemic brought with it many challenges, including the concept of working from home for the first time for many businesses. Unfortunately, in the rush to get employees set up at home, many may have neglected to consider how they would continue to fulfil their legal health and safety obligations as staff worked remotely and clearly continue to do so.

“Under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, employers are responsible for the health, safety and well-being of all employees, whether they work on site or remotely. The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 also states that all electrical equipment in the workplace must be suitable for use and maintained to ensure it is safe, including any equipment used at home to carry out their job.

“It’s a difficult situation for businesses. They are still liable if employees injure themselves at home, but mitigating the risks remotely is more challenging. Employees may not understand the risks that electrical equipment like laptops, printers and extension leads can pose, and dangerous practices like overloading sockets or leaving laptops charging on sofas can be commonplace.

“All users of electrical equipment should have some basic training in how to use the equipment safely, as well as what danger signs to be aware of. Users should feel confident in visually checking the equipment regularly for obvious signs of damage, as well as potential risks, such as cables trapped under desks or water hazards.

“However, the best way to protect your employees, and demonstrate your compliance with legislation, is to carry out regular PAT testing on all electrical equipment, whether on site or used remotely.

“PAT testing (Portable Appliance Testing) involves an examination of portable electrical equipment and appliances to ensure they are safe to use.  This should only be carried out by a competent person with the correct training and equipment. It is strongly recommended to employ an experienced and qualified PAT tester to test equipment every year.

“PAT engineers can be dispatched to employee’s homes to carry out the tests there, or employees can bring their equipment back into the office for testing. This may be a good option if there was a staff meeting, for example, as several pieces of equipment can be tested in one session.

“If you are unsure how to meet your health and safety obligations for electrical testing, phs Compliance can help with advice, guidance and over 400 experienced and trained engineers across the UK ready to start testing wherever you are.”

Click to view phs Compliance’s free PAT Testing Guide

With over 50 years’ experience, phs Compliance is one of the UK’s leading providers of facilities management and compliance services. As well as electrical, mechanical and fire safety testing and maintenance services, phsCompliance also provides specialist electrical and mechanical project services, including design, supply and installation for everything from power to lighting.

Verdantix report – 5 best practices for success in the hybrid working era

When you look back to the beginning of the first lockdown, are you proud of how rapidly your facilities team was able to adapt to enable your business to survive – and possibly even thrive? But what now? Do you have concrete next steps for your workplace strategy?

A growing number of organisations have announced their plans to shift to a hybrid system of remote and in-office work. Corporate real estate and facility management leaders have a key role to play in operationalising these hybrid strategies and implementing change at the building level.

For a limited time, Planon is offering free access to a report by Verdantix which outlines five best practices for success in your future workplace strategies for 2021 and beyond. The report is based on a thorough evaluation of 100 return-to-work strategies and global interviews with 250 corporate heads of real estate on their post-COVID strategies.

Click Here to Request Report

Cloud AV to accelerate ROI and improve virtual meetings in the WFH era

The COVID-19 Pandemic, along with extreme weather conditions, civil unrest and other disruptive events are shaping how businesses operate and how people work on a global scale.

Employees need to be engaged and productive, from an office, meeting room, at home or out on the road, with connectivity between all employees throughout an organisation essential for future business gains.

Now, research carried out by industry analysts Frost & Sullivan for a new White Paper: ‘7 Steps To Improve Meetings In The New Era Of Work’, addresses the key factors for successful collaboration, including:

  • Prioritise Cloud Conferencing Service Adaption
  • Upgrade Meeting Room Technology for the New Era of Work
  • Improve Collaboration with Audio for All
  • Instil Confidence and Boost Productivity with Seamless Audio
  • Drive Meeting Room Effectiveness with Best-In-Class Audio
  • Adopt an Ecosystem Approach
  • Focus on Ownership, Experience, Standardisation and Interoperability

The report, augmented by global market leading audio manufacturer Shure’s ‘Future of Conferencing’ survey, reveals how IT and business leaders are future-proofing organisations, with technologies being replaced due to various factors within individual businesses:

  • Quality and reliability – 35%
  • Security concerns – 34%
  • Limited interoperability with 3rd party solutions – 26%
  • Lack of the latest features and capabilities – 25%

The world has shifted to flexible, cloud-based deployment and consumption models with richer functionality, with a broad range of communication applications to choose from.

However, without the foundation of any meeting, audio, no meeting can actually take place:

  • 95% of meeting rooms have minimal technology
  • 83% of professionals depend on technology to conduct meetings and collaborate.
  • 87% of professionals are frustrated and stressed due to technology failures in meeting rooms.

Expected proliferation of distributed work is among the top factors causing organisations to re-think their meeting rooms, with 82% of managers expecting flexible work from him polices post-pandemic.

Top Drivers for Technology Investments:

  • Improve teamwork – 35%
  • Improve information management – 32%
  • Improve customer experience – 31%
  • Improve operational cost – 29%
  • Improve marketing effectiveness – 29%
  • Boost creativity and innovation – 28%
  • Accelerate decision making – 26%

“Once offices reopen, health and well-being regulations will require employees to have minimal contact with shared surfaces. Therefore, there will be a great demand for touch-less conferencing,” explained Robert Arnold, Principal Analyst, Connected Work, Frost & Sullivan. “As enterprises build a robust conferencing ecosystem, the adoption of A/V technologies that aid simple deployment, intuitive operation, and seamless compatibility with leading collaboration platforms will experience significant growth.”

Jim Schanz, Vice President, Global Integrated Systems Sales at Shure, said, “To optimize audio performance in rooms connected to any conferencing service as well as to streamline room audio management, organizations must emphasize standardization of certified audio devices. As no meeting can be effective without quality audio, investing in a scalable infrastructure can position businesses of any size for greater success as they battle evolving market factors.”

Click here to read the full report.

Five tips for leading teams remotely

If you’ve always managed a team based in the same location as you, moving from an office-based team to having some or all of your team working remotely can be a significant transition.

As so many businesses in the UK are now offering their employees remote and home working options, UK IT managed services company, TSG, are here to share some practical advice for leading remote teams and protecting productivity.

  1. Keep in touch regularly

This sounds kind of obvious, right? It’s easy to forget, though, and it’s so important.

Make sure you contact your team every day, whether you have a stand-up-type call at the start of the day or more informal chats through the day. If we go an entire day without seeing or talking to our team, we can begin to feel disconnected and isolated. You could even introduce ‘watercooler’ calls – encouraging your team to join you on video conferences with their cuppas and chat for 15 mins about anything and everything. The likes of Microsoft Teams channels can be ideal for sharing non-work related topics that might interest everyone.

  1. Turn your video on!

And encourage your team to do the same. This might not work for everyone all of the time, but as you’re likely looking at your workforce operating remotely for a significant period of time, this helps you mimic face-to-face meetings. It’s easier to read colleagues’ reactions and convey your sentiment if you’re able to see each other. If you’re worried about the messy bookshelf/sofa/room behind you, use the magic background blur button on Teams so that your colleagues will only see you.

  1. Pick up the phone

If you have an important question or need to delegate something urgent to a member of your team, call your colleague rather than emailing or instant messaging. If they’re busy and you need to get on, set a pop-up reminder to tell you when they are back online or are available – this is standard functionality within Microsoft Teams.

That’s not to say instant messaging doesn’t have a place; messaging your team throughout the day with less critical items or if you’re unable to make a call is another essential way to ensure you’re regularly touching base with your team.

  1. Be focused and available

Even remotely, it’s noticeable to your team when you’re not focused or if you’re distracted. Even if you think you look available and online, your colleagues will be able to tell if you’re not as focused or productive as usual. That said, we’re all more productive when we take regular breaks, and this is even more important when working from home. If you’re taking a break, let your team know by setting a message in your status to let them know when you’ll be back online.

  1. Make sure your team members have everything they need

Many companies are now using Microsoft Teams for conference calls, instant messaging, collaborating and sharing documents, as well as using Microsoft Planner for organising and managing our productivity. Whatever solution you choose to use, make sure your team is familiar with using it and that your people have everything they need to access your business solutions from home. This could come in the form of cloud-based solutions like Office 365 and Microsoft Teams, or using a VPN to access your on-premises business-critical systems.

Article produced by Natasha Bougourd from TSG, a managed IT services company with locations around the UK, specialising in IT support and solutions, security and applications including Office 365 and Sage.