Can we afford to ignore flexibility in the workplace?
We champion the fact that Salesforce is a cloud-based solution and that we can access it anywhere anytime on your mobile, tablet or laptop; but how many employers realise the potential of this flexibility and match it with a flexible work culture?
I believe the traditional 9-5 office-based office culture is a threat to the growth of the Salesforce Ecosystem. I also believe there are clear gains from looking at more flexible solutions for increasing productivity and attracting new talent.
It’s no secret that the Salesforce economy is crying out for new talent
A recent report by 10k View, highlighted “the growing imbalance between supply and demand for Salesforce talent. The number of available jobs requiring Salesforce skills is vastly outpacing the currently available talent pool, creating an imbalance in supply and demand for both established and emerging markets, especially in more technical roles. In North America, Salesforce Developer jobs outpace available talent by more than 4:1, and Technical Architect jobs outpace available talent by an astounding 10:1.”
The shortage of talent poses issues that could hamper the growth of the whole Salesforce sector. It’s one of the reasons why Salesforce.com is championing international Workforce Development programmes, such as Salesforce Supermums – which trains and places mums into salesforce roles.
As a Managing Director of a boutique Salesforce Consultancy called Economic Change, I felt the pressures of finding and recruiting qualified talent, first hand. In response, I decided to set up ‘Salesforce Supermums’ that raise awareness, upskill and place mums into Salesforce roles. In this way, they are able to pursue a well-paid, flexible career within the Salesforce sector as project managers, developers, admins, account execs, business analysts etc.
Women Returners: A Case Study of Untapped Potential
Women ‘Returners’ is a hugely untapped market of talented professionals – research highlighted that 2.6m mums aren’t working, 7 out of 10 mums can’t find flexible work, and 55% of mums were forced to take junior positions. There is a huge opportunity to increase the number of women in tech. It was great to hear that 50% of salesforce admins are women at Dreamforce – but what about all the other roles that women could so easily do? Women continue to be under-represented in IT, and make up under 30% of the workforce and just 20% of IT graduates, according to Computer Weekly.
Along the pressures of hiring and retaining talent, I also know the pressures placed on parents. As a mum of two young children myself and having a team of other parents I know that offering a flexible work culture is important for making this a viable career option and managing all of life’s responsibilities.
Flexibility means different things to different people
Flexibility means different things to different people – it can mean flexible working hours, full time or part-time, contract vs. permanent, office or home based. It’s about finding the right fit for your company, the role and the candidate.
At Economic Change I wanted to make sure we created a culture that championed flexibility, team spirit and cohesion, with a combined virtual and office-based working environment – it’s something that we pride ourselves on. Just like any company, we have services to deliver, customers to serve and staff to support, but each staff member practices flexibility in their own way. It is indeed a practice that Salesforce also champions as a company, with its recent job advert to hire 150 home-workers.
Concerns about Flexible Working
There are concerns on flexibility, for example employers worry that employees will abuse the privilege working from home, or fear it will harm productivity; however, evidence from studies (and my own reality) show that flexible working boosts productivity. An HSBC report into the technology sector, found that 89% of respondents cited flexible working as a motivation to be more productive at work.
Stanford University Economics Professor Nicholas Bloom found similar results.
Surveying 16,000 workers at a Chinese firm over 10 months:
- Found that those allowed to work flexibly from home increased their productivity by 13%
- Workers reported higher work satisfaction and took less sick leave than their office-based counterparts.
The UK productivity continues to lag behind other major developed nations – such as France, Germany and the US – where flexible working is an accepted practice.
There are pros and cons of all virtual or all office working, so a combination of both can offer the right balance for some companies and this is what we champion at our company.
Working in the office:
- helps employees to build relationships
- encourages collaborative working
- combats loneliness
- helps develop a strong culture
- important decisions are best when made face-to-face.
Working at home
- prevents constant interruptions
- reduces disruption or demotivating co-workers
- reduces time travelling and cost
- saves costs on a large office infrastructure running
Maximising the benefit of our chosen technology can help organisations benefit from flexible working; Salesforce, Quip, Chatter, Go to Meeting, Trello, WhatsApp are all part of our day to day communications.
If your company is struggling to hire talented staff or it needs to boost productivity, consider your options for creating a more flexible workplace and hiring from a wider talent to include women and others that might benefit from some degree of flexibility. Take advantage of the benefits of offering flexibility:
- Attracting and retaining the best talent
- Reduced office running costs
- Improve your companies’ green credentials
- Boosting productivity in the process
Can we afford not to widen the net and consider the needs of a highly productive workforce?