Agile working: does it work? Telegraph Business feature

people-woman-coffee-meetingAgile working can help boost productivity and improve staff morale, but companies need to plan their strategy carefully so that it doesn’t become a disorganised mess. That’s the conclusion of a piece I’ve written for The Telegraph here.

In the 20th century, organisations that wanted to succeed needed to make sure that all employees turned up to a place of work during designated hours, usually between 9am and 5pm.

However, with advances in technology, particularly smartphones and faster home broadband, this is no longer the case. Today, it’s often argued that flexibility helps organisations get more from their teams.

Many businesses now offer flexible working to help individual employees with their work/life balance, while some go much further, implementing ‘‘agile working’’ practices to enable all staff to work wherever and whenever they want, with the help of the latest technologies.

But does agile working really allow staff to work more smartly and collaborate on projects more easily or does it just lead to increased confusion and greater security risks? You can read the full piece here. 

How big companies are preparing for next year’s #Apprenticeship levy

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Maybe it’s appropriate that on the day when a former host of reality TV show The Apprentice becomes America’s 45th President that I should be writing about Apprenticeships. But that’s what I have been doing recently.

Coming out next week in The Telegraph is a piece I’ve written about how large companies are preparing for The Apprenticeship Levy – a 0.5 per cent tax that all companies with a turnover of £3 million per year will have to pay from April 2017 to invest in apprenticeships and training.

As part of the feature I attended a roundtable sponsored by BAE Systems to discuss how big companies like the BBC, Network Rail and Airbus are gearing up towards the changes by aligning their apprenticeships to government approved schemes.

Once the levy is paid and the apprenticeships approved, companies will then be eligible to ‘draw down’ the funding from their digital accounts within 18 months. They will also be entitled to a further 10% top up payment from the Government.

I think it’s generally a good idea and might well encourage talented people to go straight into industry who may otherwise have been put off by the thought of having to go to University and accumulating massive debts in the process (average graduate debt is now over £45,000).

However, I suspect that the levy might well come as a bit of a shock to smaller companies with around a £3 million turnover who aren’t even aware of the levy yet, let alone have begun to think how they might invest in apprenticeships over the coming months and years.

Whatever, it will certainly represent a change of focus so that going to University won’t be the only option for young people who want to get on in their chosen career.