I have read with interest recent articles and events that show how intranets and digital workplaces are helping to create a greater sense of freedom and better work/life balance leading to more equality.
It is a view I have held for many years since I experienced the benefits working from home at BT with flexible hours and clear responsibilities and priorities to help me.
In the UK official figures show that women aged 25-54 are more stressed than their male colleagues, with this pressure peaking for those aged 35-44, when many women are juggling family responsibilities, such as caring for children and elderly parents.
One way of relieving some of that stress would be flexible hours and location policy. However this can normally only be achieved if the culture is right and you have remote access to the information and work processes on the intranet.
Reduced working hours
In Spain, the employment minister, Fátima Báñez, announced a push to let Spaniards finish work at 6pm, rather than 8pm. The government has also said it is willing to consider, as part of a series of measures designed to improve work-life balance, reversing the Franco-era decision that put Spain in the wrong time zone.
Some companies in Sweden are moving to a six-hour working day in a bid to increase productivity and make people happier. “The eight-hour work day is not as effective as one would think,” says the CEO of Filimundus.
“To stay focused on a specific work task for eight hours is a huge challenge. In order to cope, we mix in things and pauses to make the work day more endurable. At the same time, we are having it hard to manage our private life outside of work.”
The aim is for people to be more motivated to work more intensely while in the office. Again without access to the right information and work processes on the intranet this will be more difficult to achieve.
Working Families is a UK work-life balance organisation. The charity helps working parents and carers and their employers find a better balance between responsibilities at home and work. They also share best practice with case studies highlighting the achievements of winners and nominees for Top Employers for Working Families Special Awards.
Work related stress already costs Britain 10.4 million working days per year. The human costs of unmanaged work related stress extends far beyond this. A key way to protect your mental health against the potential detrimental effects of work related stress is to ensure you have a healthy work-life balance.
The examples for the Flexible Working category show this is not rocket science. It is something that organisation of different type, size and purpose can succeed with.
I am NOT claiming that a good intranet or digital workplace will magically lead to this happening. There are many factors to be considered and acted upon.
What I AM claiming is that a strategy for people having access to the right information and work processes whenever and wherever it is needed. Careful planning to implement the strategy is essential. Making sure everything is well-managed and can be relied upon being accessible and reliable.
It doesn’t happen by chance or overnight. Organisation need to realise the value of their intranet or digital workplace first and to understand how it is the foundation for improving people’s productivity. That’s where we need to step up to the mark!