Making it work at home
Modern technology improves work-life balanceMICHELLE SUTTON
Equipped with an iPhone and laptop, accountant Karen Stilwell says she never misses a day of work despite despite rarely going into the office.
The mother of three who also works for Johnston and Associates Chartered Accountants has been using technology to work from home or visit clients, on average doing 25-30 hours a week, for four and a half years.
The 37-year-old pops into the office occasionally, but otherwise completes her working day at home, fitting it alongside her family life and looking after her three boys, aged 21 months, 4 and 6.
"I work 9am to 3pm and often I do 7pm to 10pm. They're some of my most productive hours."
She is among several staff at the Nelson accounting firm who can "come into the office whenever they feel like it", says boss Dean Steele.
He provided the firm's eight accounts with a mobile device - iPhone, iPad or Blackberry - to keep them mobile rather than based at the office. Some staff are contractors, invoicing their hours each week, while others are permanent staff and have to come into the office, but all are eligible to become partners, Mr Steele said.
Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dot Kettle said more employers in the region were cautiously offering greater flexibility, with the use of new technology.
There was a greater focus on output, rather than how or where that was completed - at home, at work or while travelling.
"It's a growing trend for businesses to be a lot more flexible in their approach. It's happening across the board," she said.
"But there's needs to be a high degree of trust. Otherwise these things can be viewed by employees as having to be on call 24/7, or employers can see that productivity is dropping off."
Mrs Stilwell said she would never have stayed in the job had she been bound to a traditional 8.30am to 5pm office job.
In that case she and her husband would have been forced to send the children to a childcare centre every day while they were at the office.
"I didn't want that. I'm much happier in my work doing this. It cuts down on my travel time, I'm not rushing around."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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