Understanding… Flexible Working
Unleash the power of your people
Bringing it all togetherIT • communications • support
• Help you to save time and money and
to simplify the way you approach ﬂexible
For further advice and to ﬁnd out more
about how BT can help your business, get
in touch with us at www.bt.com/business/
04 What is ﬂexible working?
05 Some myths about ﬂexible working
06 Implementing ﬂexible working
07 Working with a converged network
08 A day in the life …
10 Implementation – some practical
Flexible working from home
11 Flexible working on the road
Flexible working in the workplace
12 Getting started – 10 things to
14 BT – your guide to ﬂexible working
15 Glossary of technical terms
Unleash the power of your people
Welcome to ‘Understanding Flexible
Working’, one in our series of advisory
publications designed to help small and
medium sized businesses discover how to
get more from their IT and communications
systems. We aim to demystify key topics by:
• Explaining the basic concepts so you can see
how they apply to your business.
• Outlining key opportunities and beneﬁts so
you can see what is possible.
• Advising on the best approach to move
forward, helping you to make the right
decisions for your business and avoid
Understanding ﬂexible working
Why choose ﬂexible working?
The term ﬂexible working has been around
a long time and it has many connotations.
People may associate it with shift working or
ﬂexitime, and other organisational solutions
favoured by businesses with large workforces.
These days, however, ﬂexible working
describes an approach that can beneﬁt
every size of organisation. It is based on the
principle that distance or the lack of a ﬁxed
location are no longer barriers to conducting
business. It also recognises the increasing
demands on employees’ time and provides
new tools to help them manage it better and
with better results.
Thanks to innovative technologies, you
can now enable your people to work from
home and on the move. This gives them
more control of their lives and work and at
the same time can deliver both cost and
efﬁciency beneﬁts to the organisation.
Flexible working can...
• Enable employees to work remotely,
improving their efﬁciency and productivity.
• Improve service to customers and help
you respond to issues as they arise.
• Enable you to react to circumstances and
new priorities quickly and effectively.
• Help to reduce your dependence on ofﬁce
space and reduce staff churn.
• Keep your people in the loop and working
as part of your team.
• Help ensure your business can continue
to do its work despite emergencies and
Flexible working enables your employees to
work effectively without having to go into
the ofﬁce all day, every day. One in three UK
workers recently reported that they would
rather have more opportunities for ﬂexible
working than get a pay rise. BT research
suggests that by 2010, more than 50 million
Europeans will spend some time working
remotely, instead of at their usual workplace.
An array of tried and tested technology – from
personal organisers to high-speed broadband
– enables you to access information at one
remove and be in constant touch. Whether
it’s phone calls, messages or emails, enquiries
from customers, voicemails from colleagues,
discussion papers, the latest price list or bid
document, you can get the information you
need, wherever and whenever you need it.
The proof of the value is in the take-up: senior
managers and remote workers in more than
42 per cent of companies already use email
solutions such as BlackBerry devices and
other personal organisers.
With broadband, employees can work from
home, with full access to company networks
and services. And thanks to wireless and
the latest generation of mobile internet
connections, staff can work while travelling
at thousands of public Wi-Fi hotspots. People
appreciate having effective tools for their
work, and it shows in their performance and
responsiveness, so your customers share in
the beneﬁts of ﬂexible working too.
What is ﬂexible working?
Some myths about ﬂexible working
‘It’s only for big companies’
Not any more. Flexible working is about using
technologies to help get the best from your
people and this is even more important for the
‘If the internet goes down, so does my
It isn’t like that. Nobody needs to rely on
a single connection. If a home broadband
connection fails, there’s always a mobile
phone, a laptop or a PDA that can make a
connection to keep you in touch.
‘It’s too expensive to set up’
It needn’t be. You can start with a relatively
small investment in the things that will make
the most immediate impact and add more
services as you choose. Bringing all your
communications together over a converged
network can reduce the overall cost of
‘If staff can access our ﬁles from outside, so
No they can’t. Basic security measures such
as ﬁrewalls and anti-virus software can deny
hackers access to your data and systems
whether you are working in the workplace, at
home or on the road. Using a Virtual Private
Network extends the security protection of
your ofﬁce network to any location, allowing
access only to authorised staff.
‘If I can’t see my staff, they’ll do less work’
The opposite tends to be true. Allowing staff
greater ﬂexibility over managing their time
and granting them easy access to instant
communications helps them respond more
quickly. Recent press reports have suggested
that some people can become ‘addicted’ to
ﬂexible working technologies; it’s important
to remember the ‘off’ button has a valuable
productivity function too!
‘Home workers will feel isolated’
Some may, but regular online meetings and
other day-to-day working links can reduce
this. A ‘touchdown’ space gives remote
workers a ‘home’ in the ofﬁce and reminds
everyone that the team includes people who
aren’t always there.
Keeping your ﬁeld force in the ﬁeld
10 years ago, BT’s customer engineers used to
turn up at their depots daily, collect their job
sheets, load their stores and set off. At the end
of the day, they’d return, having completed
some or all of the jobs and manually update
the system for the reporting and rescheduling
task to start again for the next day.
Now, BT engineers go straight from home
to work, with jobs allocated and managed
through handheld terminals. Picking up
spares at centralised depots, each job is tracked
and changing priorities can be managed.
Customers can ﬁnd out what is happening
immediately and engineers complete more
visits. The business now has greater control of
its resources, offers improved customer service
and employees appreciate the tools that help
them get on with the job.
Implementing ﬂexible working
In a dizzyingly complex and innovative
marketplace, there are many choices open
to businesses. You can use any of the
individual technologies and devices simply by
purchasing whichever meets your immediate
needs on the open market. You will get the
basic features and services you’re looking for
– you can make calls or receive email on the
move from day one.
But you may also encounter some real
disadvantages with this approach. For
example, when you try to make new devices
work together and link with your existing
systems and services. Or when you realise
the sheer number of contracts you have to
cope with or the payments, warranties and
maintenance agreements, and different
online and telephone service contact points
that you now need to set up and administer.
Converging networks deliver ﬂexible working
SABMiller plc, one of the world’s largest
brewers, needed to relocate its headquarters
within the UK. The move provided the
opportunity to maximise the beneﬁt
SABMiller could get from technology, both
for the people that work in the building and
for the company as a whole. As well as a
single network converging their voice and
data services, a key requirement was a secure
wireless network that offered both public and
SABMiller staff are no longer tethered to
ﬁxed working positions. Users can roam
seamlessly between the wired and wireless
infrastructures and a new uniﬁed messaging
function means voicemail can now be
accessed and managed through email. A
converged network is also proving easier to
manage and simpler to maintain.
‘The new solution has allowed us to reduce
internal facilities management resources. The
capital cost was less than expected and the
ongoing cost of ownership looks to be very
competitive. Working with BT has been a
breeze; its people know IP technology
and can support it end-to-end. BT will be
able to help us going forward as the
Roger Chappé de Leonval, IT Manager,
Working with a converged network
There is an approach that can help. The key
to getting the best from any set of ﬂexible
working tools is to use them over a single,
integrated network – a converged network.
With a converged network you don’t need
a separate infrastructure and processes to
support each device or technology –
everything is based on Internet Protocol (IP),
the technology at the heart of the internet.
By setting up a Local Area Network (LAN) at
your workplace, you can ensure all your ﬁxed
and mobile voice and data communications
systems and devices work together securely
and in new ways that will help you improve
efﬁciency, reduce costs and improve your
Installing a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
extends the boundaries of your ofﬁce
network and gives ﬂexible workers access to
the same information and services they would
have if they were physically in the ofﬁce.
VPNs provide excellent protection against
unauthorised users and keep your people
more effectively in touch from home.
Don’t let the technical language put you off
– you can ﬁnd straightforward deﬁnitions of
all these technical terms in the Glossary at
the end of this guide. Find out more about
the advantages convergence can offer your
business in our ‘Understanding Convergence’
guide, available from www.bt.com/
Steve Eungblut, Managing Director of Sterling
Chase, a training, coaching and consulting
company, relies heavily on mobile IT and
communications technologies to meet clients’
needs quickly and effectively. Steve needs to
be permanently reachable by both his clients
and staff and, with his laptop, BlackBerry and
mobile phone, here’s how he does it…
‘I work on my laptop and BlackBerry on the
commute into London – it’s good to get
through the avalanche of email and get
on with the week ahead. I like to get in by
8.00am, as it is the best time for speaking to
clients. In the taxi to my ﬁrst meeting I update
clients and listen to their concerns. Where
possible, I use text messaging – clients like
to be kept informed without clogging up
After the meeting it’s back to the ofﬁce to
catch up with my colleagues. My Microsoft
Outlook calendar and appointments are
synchronised so people know where I am. We
talk and I conﬁrm some product details for my
next client. Just time to download some PDFs
from my BlackBerry to my laptop and I’m out
Walking to my next meeting, I make
some calls on my BlackBerry. I put a huge
proportion of my business success down
to the fact that I’m available anytime, any
place, anywhere. Neither my clients nor my
colleagues can afford to have me ofﬂine and I
even took my BlackBerry on holiday – luckily,
as I might have lost a six-ﬁgure deal had I not
been able to respond instantly to a concerned
Working ﬂexibly with BT–a day in the life
After a successful meeting I stop off for a
caffeine top-up at a café with a BT Openzone
hotspot. I send some urgently requested
proposals and a slide presentation to a
client using a secure, broadband Wi-Fi
connection. I also browse the net and catch
up with some industry news, and ﬁnd out
about Newcastle United’s latest signing. I
can take calls anywhere because I use a call
forwarding service to my mobile – it projects
a professional image and I never miss a call.
Back to the ofﬁce to approve a proposal
using our networked BT Business Broadband
(speeds up to 8Mbps!) for fast download.
The technology we use from BT is a fantastic
enabler – we can be both productive and
available exactly when our customers need.
It’s no exaggeration to say my business
would have failed without these ﬂexible
These scenarios illustrate some of the
management and technology issues you will
need to consider in implementing new and
more ﬂexible ways of working.
Flexible working from home
Full or part time working from home can
have clear advantages for employees,
allowing them to balance work and family
responsibilities. And businesses beneﬁt
too from a noticeable improvement in the
productivity of individuals.
In the home, a broadband connection
enables occasional or full-time home workers
to access the internet using a PC and also
therefore to log on to your company network
and systems, in order to access email and
A broadband connection can also allow
the individual to make voice calls over the
internet (VoIP), often at reduced rates.
Note that consumer-grade VoIP services
have security and other limitations and
cannot match the range of features and
services found on most business-grade IP
Implementation-some practical guidance
There are many ‘domestic’ aspects of
homeworking that both the company and the
individual need to understand and agree in
• Appropriate health and safety standards
• Funding of accommodation costs, such
as rent, rates, power, heating and ﬁre
precautions and insurance.
• Sharing or funding of communications
costs including equipment purchase, line
rentals, service subscriptions and call and
• Access to, usage and protection of company
equipment, networks and services, and
• How the individual will retain an equal
opportunity to play a full part in required
Flexible working on the road
Advances in internet and mobile
connectivity mean people can use a
laptop computer, a sophisticated mobile
phone or other organiser or digital
assistant to send and receive emails and
other messages from home or on the
road. 3G mobile services offer speeds
broadly equivalent to a broadband
connection. The need to maintain
security means care should be taken to
protect sensitive information when using
a public wireless hotspot or a private local
Keeping up with the law
Olswang’s solicitors are regularly away from
their ofﬁces and need to keep in touch with
the latest case developments and changes
to their schedules – but remote access to
email is just too cumbersome. BT provided a
managed BlackBerry solution that enabled
Olswang partners to receive and send secure
and unlimited information by email, wherever
they are. This has noticeably improved
responsiveness, personal productivity and
the quality of service delivered to clients.
The solution has been so successful it’s been
extended to all fee earners in the ﬁrm.
‘The BlackBerry from BT has been a revelation
and we are looking at the possible deployment
of other applications to further enhance
productivity and efﬁciency. BT showed that it
clearly understood both the technology and our
requirements and tabled a strong commercial
offer including comprehensive training and the
highest levels of service support.’
Clive Knott, IT Director, Olswang
Flexible working in the workplace
Installing a Local Area Network (LAN) links all
your phones, computers and other devices at
a site or ofﬁce together using IP technology
to replace separate voice and data networks.
A LAN increases the use you can make of
your workplace. No longer dependent on
hard-wired connections, you can move
phones, computers, printers and people
where you need them, when you need to.
With a LAN, moves, changes and additions
are easy to manage and conﬁgurable from a
Adding wireless connectivity to your LAN
(WLAN) takes it all a step further, giving
you the ultimate in ﬂexible use of your
accommodation. No part of your premises
need be out of touch or out of reach.
There can be downsides for both home
workers and people frequently on the
road – they can grow distant from the
organisation. It is a good idea to ensure
regular opportunities for outworkers to visit
the workplace to meet up with colleagues. A
‘touchdown’ area with a network connection
and access to a phone and other services can
provide a proper base and help people feel
more part of the team.
Takealook at what happensnowinyourbusiness
andwhere you need to makeimprovements.Do
customers complain abouthowlongittakesto
getaresponse? Are your keypeopleoutofreach
whenthey’re out of the ofﬁce?Canyouaccess
company ﬁles and informationwhenyouneed
them?Listing the real problemsyouneedto
address is the best place tostart.
Whatare your objectives forthecomingyear?
Areyou growing and addingnewcustomersand
newservices? Where do youmostneedtoreduce
overheads and costs, yet stilldeliverimproved
performance? Try to assesshowyour
communications needs willchange.
Thereare new devices andserviceslaunched
everyday, so it will help yourpurchasingdecisions
ifyouhave a broad awarenessofthedifferent
functions and features of devices.Aquickcallto
BTwillgive you a good ideaoftheservicesand
functions that the latest laptops,mobilesand
Ontheone hand, access to certainkindsof
company, customer and employeeinformationis
restricted by law and commercialnecessity.On
theother, companies need tobeopen,
informative and helpful to staff,customersand
investorsand increasingly transparentabout
transactions. Security is all aboutauthentication
andblocking unauthorised accesstonetworks,
information and services andrequiresexpert
attention from your supplier.
Remoteworkers depend on constantandreliable
connections and devices, somakesureyou
headache if each device andpieceofequipment,
everypackage and service issupported
independently. Your suppliermaybeabletooffer
Withguidance from the rightsupplier,youshould
costsavings that may result fromyouradoption
andperformance with your supplier–
opportunities to reduce costsandimprove
servicesmay become apparentfromexamining
Choosing the right supplier
BT–your guide to ﬂexible working
According to a YouGov survey for BT
Business, directors of the UK’s smaller
businesses increasingly recognise that
ﬂexible working policies can positively help
their organisations, with 65 per cent citing
staff motivation and 50 per cent increased
productivity as key reasons to adopt them.
In recruitment terms, younger workers prefer
ﬂexible working and would consider forgoing
a pay rise in order to gain more ﬂexibility.
Some 70 per cent of graduate job seekers
are actively looking for the chance to work
ﬂexibly and, at the other end of the age
spectrum, ﬂexible working can help you
retain the insight and experience of longer-
Unleash the power of your people
BT can help you adopt the elements of ﬂexible
working that will truly beneﬁt your business,
either as additions to your existing services
or as a step towards developing a converged
network for all your voice and data
communications, now and in the future.
We have the experience and understanding
that you need and offer a wide range of
services and equipment from the world’s
leading manufacturers and suppliers. We
can help you devise and implement a ﬂexible
working policy tailored to your company’s
needs. Our maintenance, repair and support
services give you the reassurance and
the response you require with a single
contact point and contract to make
Contact us today
Get in touch and we’ll help you review your
existing voice and data infrastructure and
services and show you the beneﬁts your
business could gain from adopting ﬂexible
working – at no cost. Visit us online at
Glossary of technical terms
BlackBerry a popular brand of PDA.
DSL Digital Subscriber Line; a broadband
connection over an ordinary telephone line.
Firewall hardware or software that blocks
unauthorised access to a network or router.
Hotspot a location offering wireless
IP Internet Protocol; the standards, rules and
processes that enable voice and data to be
transmitted over networks.
LAN Local Area Network; the wired
connections and equipment that make up a
site or ofﬁce communications system.
Laptop a portable PC.
PC a desktop Personal Computer.
PDA Personal Digital Assistant; a portable,
handheld device for receiving and sending
voice, video and data messages.
Router a device that enables data to be sent
and received at broadband speeds over an
ordinary telephone line.
VoIP Voice over Internet Protocol services
use a broadband connection to carry
VPN a Virtual Private Network extends an
organisation’s network to outlying ofﬁce or
Wi-Fi wireless broadband access.
WLAN a Wireless Local Area Network enables
wireless voice and data connections within a
site or ofﬁce.