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    Should We Have the Option of Flexible Working?


    “Remote working is defined as working somewhere other than the office one day a week or more.”

    If you have hired recently, then you may be well aware of the shortage of talent out there. Often managers stick to what they know and past generations have the idea that ‘good’ work happens from 9am to 5pm, in offices around the city, but for future generations who have been brought up on e-commerce and communications, this will not do.

    The employer perspective:

    Working outside the traditional office environment is becoming increasingly popular; around 20 % of workers worldwide are said to be working from home and almost 3 in 10 divide their working week between home and the office. There are many motivations for companies to take on remote working practices. You have to consider that every company is unique therefore each will find different benefits from remote working. Some of the common benefits are: worker retention, increased HR capacity, increased productivity, increased growth and saved money. Studies by the ‘President’s Council of Economic Advisers’ have found that workers value workplace flexibility in their top five critical workplace requirements. Businesses of all types increasingly need workers with specialised skills, who may not be available locally. Many studies demonstrate that remote workers will be more productive with the right support. This relates to time saved in travel as well as decreased distractions. The nature of the work will determine success levels in using the remote-working arrangement. Whether this is easily translated into the patent profession will largely be determined by the employer culture, e-infrastructure and client base – be that internal or external.

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    The employee perspective:

    Managing remote workers requires different skills from managers and employees. However, as more and more people are starting to work from home, it comes with a share of advantages and disadvantages. Some positives:

    No commute – Studies show that workers regard their commute as a loss of wages, expense and a general negative aspect of their work.

    Lifestyle – Remote work allows for closer contact to family needs, improved personal planning opportunities and customized working environment.

    Productivity – Many studies demonstrate that a remote worker will be more productive with the right support. This relates to time saved in travel as well as decreased distractions.

    Save money – Remote work can reduce the money and time required to commute to and from the traditional workplace. Other economic factors may include adult/child daycare, attire, etc.

    A case in point:

    As a specialist headhunter within the patent profession, we frequently approach patent attorneys beyond a comfortable geographical reach to the client. Often, location is cited as the reason for declining continued interest. We often wonder, if clients were more flexible and offered remote working, would we be able to help people realise these opportunities?

    A client we are currently working with is in the process of hiring their preferred candidate, however this candidate would have to undertake a 3-hour commute. Originally the job description offered the typical ‘9-5 office hours arrangement’, but so as not to lose the candidate, the client has taken a flexible approach and allowed the candidate to work three days a week from home. Both parties are happy and this has enabled the client to recruit the best talent for the role.

    Something to think about:

    In the work we carry out, we have come to realise that this flexible arrangement of working is necessary in order to attract the best people and for companies to accept that the modern world of work must now compete with many other employee pressures and commitments outside of the company. Employers need to be conscious of the fact that if this isn’t part of company culture, then they may be losing out on talented people who are opting to work for other companies who are willing to accommodate their lifestyles.

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