Why UK businesses should be prepared to operate 24/7


Gone are the days of everything being done between the hours of 9 and 5. Thanks to the internet, ingenious software technology, cloud computing and the explosive growth in a flexible workforce, businesses can operate efficiently 24 hours a day, for 365 days a year more easily than ever before. According to a recent report in The Telegraph, 24/7 business is the future, they’re not wrong and here are our thoughts on why:

Related: Work and life balance

Cloud and mobile

Cloud computing has changed the way many businesses operate and has provided huge cost savings. Updating IT was once a big capital cost to businesses, but IT operations on the cloud reduce that capital expense significantly. The most obvious cost saving is on space for infrastructure and storage, but there are many other cost benefits too.

Cost savings go beyond the obvious. As a direct result of the cloud and mobile, efficiency in a wide range of business operations has increased productivity and improved business agility. Tight integration between the cloud and software applications has given businesses the opportunity to predict, plan better and provide customers with improved and more efficient services. With the cloud, issues of data back-up and disaster recovery are also eliminated.

Running a business 24/7 requires every hour to be planned and supported to perfection. Shift planning systems, compatible with mobile, are one of a number of cloud-based processes that save on management time and enables seamless operation over 24 hours much easier. Cloud-based software, such as shift planning by Planday, enables self-service shift planning, shift swapping, shift reminders, text messaging and overall improved communication between managers and staff.

The millennial workforce

Much has been written about the millennials’ desire to engage in flexible working. According to Deloitte’s Millennial Survey 2017, millennials, while now seek greater stability due to uncertain times, still prefer employment offering flexible working arrangements.

Millennials, more than any other generation before them, value blending their work and personal lives. Contributing to society is also high on the millennials agenda and that’s not something they feel they can do working 9-5 in an office all day.

Today, an unprecedented number of people work from home. Stable 9-5 career paths are on their way out. Since Deloitte’s 2016 survey on millennials, there has been a significant expansion in numbers able to work from locations other than the employer’s main site.

Technology and millennials are facilitating this trend in remote working. It is proving cost-effective for businesses who don’t have to provide office space. According to a 2016 survey of American remote workers, 91 per cent of those working from home felt that they were more productive working from home than they were in the office.

Sandwich generation

Around 2.4 million Brits are tasked with caring for children, alongside elderly parents. This group has become labelled the ‘sandwich generation’. Many in this situation seek flexible working patterns to fit in with responsibilities at home and their partners working hours.

Economic advantages

Operating a business 24/7 has distinct economic advantages. Improved lead times are apparent with continuous operations and that brings competitive advantage, as does immediacy of customer service. Where machinery is in operation, downtime costs the business money.

E-commerce has revolutionised the way companies do business. Consumers want to be able to purchase goods from the comfort of their own homes 24/7. It has also allowed many businesses the opportunity to complete more easily in the global market.

For some smaller businesses the costs of operating 24/7 may not be feasible, but outsourcing customer service calls may be an option, as could shift working from home.

Brexit and globalisation

If we dare mention the B word (you got it – Brexit), businesses will be even more likely to look for export opportunities outside of Europe once we exit the EU, especially if a trade deal without tariffs can’t be reached. Trading with customers and businesses in other time zones further pushes the need for operations to have greater flexibility in their opening hours.

Customer expectations

Millennials aren’t just a part of the workforce, they’re consumers too. Millennials expect access to what they need 24/7. Today’s digital communication means we can stay connected to friends, make purchases, stream news and TV 24 hours a day. Flexible working arrangements are elongating the working day with many businesses splitting shifts to open for longer.

Globalisation, the impending implications of Brexit on business, digital technology, an increasingly flexible workforce, and consumer demand are driving the 24/7 environment. Businesses who ignore the call do so at their peril.

Related: 4 Ways leaders create a positive work environment

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