Is ‘workshifting’ just another in a long line of empty corporate buzzwords with a short shelf life?’ Or does it point to a real change in the way businesses work?

Everyone will have their own opinion, of course. For me, this is one example of management-speak that has real credibility, as it accurately reflects the growing pressures on employers to put in place more flexible working practices for their staff.

There are a number of compelling drivers here. On the one hand, over the past 12 months we’ve seen problems emerge as a result of unexpected business interruptions. After all, who could have predicted the dramatic appearance of the volcanic ash cloud moving haphazardly across Europe – and at a time when the continuing dispute at British Airways was already causing huge uncertainty to business and domestic travellers.

And then there’s the regulator. New measures designed to cut the corporate carbon footprint or to improve the work/life balance for staff are forcing employers to look for ways to enable staff to work from home or other remote locations.

The trouble is, despite these and other pressures, companies will only do the bare minimum unless they can make sure that productivity rates won’t be knocked for six.

The good news is that technology can help. As ‘cloud’ based solutions have become more established as a credible means of IT delivery, this has turned the world upside down, especially for smaller businesses. (Ironic that one cloud is solving a problem caused by another…) The sky truly is the limit for any business to access sophisticated IT solutions.

Workshifting provides a perfect example of this. Even the smallest business can now make full use of simple-to-use Software-as-a-Service collaboration tools, so staff stay fully operational, whenever they are away from the office.
They can securely access their PCs remotely and conduct online meetings in a way which replicates almost every aspect of face-to-face contact. This ‘work anywhere and with anyone’ approach means it’s business as usual – whatever the reason for staff having to work remotely.

The benefits don’t stop there. We’re told that work-related pressures are costing the UK economy – that means individual businesses – a massive £26bn every year. Collaboration means that employers can now relieve causes of work overload known to be a major contributor to stress and lost work-days.
And a recent report by the British Chamber of Commerce has shown that firms who have introduced flexible working have reported a positive effect on employee relations, retention and productivity.

The result? The employee wins and the employer wins – perfect.