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Plantronics, Winner 2013, The Best for Innovation 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 taken an approach to flexible and family-friendly working which they themselves say starts and ends from the proposition that employees can be trusted to deliver whatever working pattern they choose. By putting outputs first, they have been able to adopt a total flexibility approach they describe as ‘ultimate’. Employees are given complete flexibility to decide where, when and how they work to find the best work-life fit for themselves and their families.

The company has aimed to develop the best holistic flexible working experience possible. To do this they launched their own Smarter Working project which looked at working practices, employee engagement and the effectiveness of communication technologies. This was framed within a wider understanding of the role that work plays within the lives of employees as individuals, and how this could be made as fulfilling as possible through work and life integration.

The Smarter Working project focused in detail on a number of factors which all had an influence on how flexible the organisation could be. These were:

·       Developing an upgraded management culture expected of a 21st century employer

·       A structure that supports freedom (communication, policy, training to ensure successful transformation)

·       Transforming  the business process and systems (the right technology to allow essential mobility and freedom)

·       Designing an office environment that would invigorate and energise those who worked in it by introducing specific spaces for specific work tasks while at the same time reducing floor space (the 4C’s spaces  – Collaboration/Communication/Contemplation/Concentration)

·       Developing a robust ‘managing for results’ systems framework  (a transparent system that automatically cascades corporate goals down throughout the whole organisation)

Employees were given a voice in the design of the office environment, and the approach taken considered three elements: developing innovative work spaces, communications and collaboration, behaviours and skills.

Plantronics have been measuring across a number of indicators to see whether their innovative approach has business benefits as well as employee ones. They have observed that staff turnover has reduced from 15% to 3.2%, intent to remain with the company is at 98%, attrition has reduced from 12% to 2%, absenteeism has reduced from 12% to 3 % and there has been a £250k+ real estate saving as they have moved to a single building. They have also noted employee benefits. Work-life balance is enhanced, staff feel Plantronics has fostered a real culture of trust and they feel empowered. Engagement scores are up to 86% (against an industry average of 62%) and job satisfaction has also increased from 61% to 85%. In addition Plantronics have noted that they are a more agile organisation, better able to respond to customers in different time zones.

Summing up Plantronics’ total flexibility approach, Norma Pearce, HR Director at the company, said “With the flexibility to work from anywhere and at any time, our employees now have a way to define their own roadway to success and achieve at the highest level both at the office and at home. With our Smart Working Project, our entire team has helped us develop an innovative work environment that truly promotes employee engagement and career progression while giving each of our personnel members the freedom to balance their work and personal lives. Not only do they have the best mobile technologies at their disposal to communicate and collaborate with their colleagues, they also have a vested interest in Plantronics’ future goals and are enthusiastic about working together towards achieving them.