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Plantronics, Winner 2013, The Best for Engagement Award

Sector: Technology/Communications
Location: Royal Wootton Bassett
Employees: 120 UK based, 3,500 world-wide

Plantronics is a medium-sized company specialising in the technology sector. They have developed what they call an ‘ultimate’ approach to flexibility which allows for complete flexibility regarding how, where and when work is done. Even if they are in the office, there are a number of different spaces employees can choose to work from depending on what tasks they are working on.

Employee engagement has gone up (to 86% against an industry average of 62%) against a background of working practices and culture which is truly supportive of family-friendly working. Intent to stay with the company is 98%, and job satisfaction has increased by 40% to 85%. Employees decide which pattern best suits their need and preferences, and can flex their days as they want. For example, they can go to the (subsidised) gym in the middle of the day, attend appointments or simply go for a walk if they want.

They have seen that employees who are parents have especially benefited. Working mothers and fathers are able to choose to continue to work full-time without having to reduce their hours to find the flexibility they need. Seniority and career progression are also completely compatible with flexible working methods. Flexibility at Plantronics is an effective tool to support engagement and wellbeing. It is not simply about different formal working contracts – it is an approach to work, an attitude that brings responsibility and accountability for the employee to deliver results but with choice over where, when and how they work within an environment that trusts them to do so.

Trust is a key concept. As Clare Tibbitts, Inside Sales and Marketing Manager of Plantronics says, “At Plantronics, I’m measured on my output rather than by when I clock in and out of the office or by how much time I spend at my desk. With this peace of mind, I feel that I can perform at my best at all times and be truly productive both when I’m at the office and at home with my two young children. I feel my manager and my colleagues trust me to manage my work schedules effectively so that I can help them meet their quarterly goals and reach my personal role-based objectives. This approach lets me decide how to best balance my professional obligations and personal life. ”

Although Plantronics falls into the category of a small to medium sized business, their success and innovative approach mean that other, much larger, companies are studying what they have done to see if they can introduce similar ways of working themselves.