New UK Flexible Work Law Means Many SMBs May Need to Update Technology

    In the UK on June 30, 2014, a law came into effect that allows all employees to request flexible work. According to the government website, this means anyone, not just parents or those who care for others, can request varied times for the start and finish of their work days or ask to be allowed to work from home when feasible.

    Of course, there are guidelines for the requests and employers do not have to honor all the requests if they have a “good business reason” for rejecting them. Some businesses have already begun honoring employees’ requests.

    However, according to a survey commissioned by Citrix from the Office of National Statistics, many SMBs disagree with the new legislation (21 percent) because they believe it will have a negative impact, and nearly half (45 percent) of SMBs are not even aware the law is in effect. Another 46 percent of the SMBs surveyed have no policy for flexible work days.

    This has lead one UK company to declare that SMBs, due to the fact that they are often behind the times technologically speaking, must soon get up to speed with new technologies. According to ITProPortal, it’s in the best interest of smaller businesses to adopt new technologies not only because of the new laws:

    Outsourcery, the UK-based cloud-service provider, cited figures from the Office of National Statistics [ONS] that stated seven in 10 adults use portable devices away from home and work and firms are being urged to adapt in so-as to not be left behind.

    Certainly, the global adoption of mobile devices has had a huge effect on the workplace, not just in the UK. Piers Linney, co-CEO at UK cloud-service provider Outsourcery, says that consumer mobility is causing businesses to need to be more tech savvy:

    “Fundamentally, a workplace is made up of consumers who use mobile devices every day. The way lifestyles are changing will inevitably have a direct impact on the way people work, and the best businesses are playing to the strengths of their employees by implementing strategies within the workplace which enable employees to work flexibly.”

    It seems the prevailing opinion is that current generations are far more tech savvy, and for SMBs to attract and keep these employees, changes will need to be made to their current plans to allow working from home and creating customized schedules.  Linney feels that it’s time for these businesses to start thinking about how to implement mobility into their daily processes.

    “As the next generation enters the workforce, it will become more vital for businesses to change the traditional workplace strategy they have in place. Some businesses have already embraced this, and reaped the benefits of a more efficient and mobile workforce; the others will need to catch up soon before they risk missing out on the new and growing skills of employees.”

    Of course, this is all happening across the sea. But these are still valid points in our country. It makes me wonder if more SMBs in the U.S. could benefit or are benefitting from adopting more mobile workforces and flexible work days. Will such legislation ever come about on this continent? And if it does, how will it affect SMBs?

    Kim Mays has been editing and writing about IT since 1999. She currently tackles the topics of small to midsize business technology and introducing new tools for IT. Follow Kim on Google+ at or Twitter @blumoonky.

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