Today’s HR managers are increasingly targeting millennials to rejuvenate the workforce.

However, this generation of employees not only expects, but demands, flexible working conditions – in both their working hours, and working location. In fact, according to research, 82 percent of millennials said they would be more loyal to their employer if they have flexible work options.

To attract and retain workers by meeting these expectations, HR needs to encourage the business to build the foundations of truly flexible working – such as enabling workers do their jobs wherever they are. While transforming business culture may seem like a drastic course of action, adopting flexible working conditions can provide a raft of business benefits besides attracting new blood.

For instance, flexibility boosts productivity by enabling employees to work from any location at any time, and doesn’t require substantial investment – in fact it can reduce costs.

Happy workers, lower costs – what’s not to like?

Flexible employees of any age are both happier and fresher than their office based counterparts, as they aren’t worn out by commuting or a rigid work pattern – instead they are free to complete work when and where it suits them. A recent survey confirms this, with 83 percent reporting that adopting flexible working had resulted in improvements in productivity.

Flexible working can also reduce costs as it decentralises the workplace, removing the need for large offices as not all employees will be present at the same time. It also means businesses can recruit talent wherever it is found, as it’s no longer necessary for skilled workers to be tied to a specific location.

However, to support flexible working conditions and lure the best talent, whilst taking advantage of increased productivity and reduced costs, businesses need to make it as simple as possible for workers to communicate regardless of location. There is no single “magic bullet” communication channel that will do this – businesses have to accept that, as individuals, workers will each favour their own specific methods. For instance, older workers may prefer phone calls and audio conferencing, while millennials might prefer chat and instant messaging. As a result, businesses need to be sure that their strategy embraces all the communication channels they may need.

Overcoming the communication conundrum

Embracing a complete range of communication channels can be complicated – especially if the business needs to approach multiple vendors to get everything it needs. There are not only the costs of dealing with multiple vendors, but the time taken to train employees to use a host of different of applications will drain productivity. As a result, businesses should look for solutions that are easy to use and provide several communication channels in a single application. The easier technology is to use, the less time it should take to train the workforce and the more readily employees will adopt it.

If HR departments are to encourage the adoption of flexible working, they need to persuade the business to implement user-friendly technologies. Ideally, this should mean adopting software that closely resembles the applications many people use at home to connect with friends and family, such as Skype and WhatsApp.

Similarly, the business should not only think about what software their workers are used to, but also what hardware. For example, will employees be most familiar with how to use a desk-phone, or a smartphone? If employees already use their mobile for social calls and messaging, is the simplest option to simply let them use it for work as well?

After all, there is little value in providing a flexible working environment if few employees can take advantage of it. This is particularly important to attract millennials, as many already use their personal phones to access a range of communication channels, so may be reluctant to carry two devices for the same purpose.

No time like the present

A Microsoft study found that 93 percent of millennials said that working for a company with updated technology, services, and solutions was important to them. Consequently, outdated communications, which don’t work support flexible working, may deter prospective graduates from joining a company’s workforce.

If an organisation is already planning to update its communications – for example, many are being forced by BT’s plans to retire its copper phone lines by 2025 – it marks the perfect time to begin truly supporting flexible working.

Supporting a flexible working environment can offer a raft of benefits to both companies and employees. However, for businesses to realise these benefits they need to ensure that the communications solution they adopt to underpin remote working and mobility is comprehensive and user friendly.

Without these qualities, companies will struggle to support practical flexible working conditions and attract a millennial workforce. The sooner they do, the sooner HR can offer flexible working conditions and attract millennials, to bolster the future workforce and futureproof the company.

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