When Dolly Parton wrote ‘9 To 5’ thirty years ago few could have guessed the song would catapult the singer so firmly into the drunken sing-along category we are all, embarrassingly, familiar with.

Three decades later, on Saturday nights a new generation of British workers dance to Dolly’s catchy mantra in nightclubs and bars all over the country. And yet, thankfully, working nine to five could soon be a thing of the past.

So too, in fact, could be your desk phone, your daily commute, travelling to meetings and signing off your emails with ‘Kind Regards’.

Because how we work is changing.

A recent study of office workers by Jabra* found that while 19 per cent felt they were expected to make calls and respond to emails outside of work hours, 53 per cent actually chose to do so.

The same survey found that almost half of employees use a mobile or smartphone rather than a desk phone to communicate with their colleagues, suppliers or customers.

Employers do, of course, already know this. But here’s what they don’t know: the survey found that one in four workers aged 18-24 are frustrated by the IT and communication tools available to them. And they’re not all after iPads either. Simply introducing headphones, for one in three people (30 per cent), would boost their productivity.  

Meanwhile, 43 per cent of those asked said the key factor that would improve their productivity was being able to work from home more often or more easily.

There is no denying it: we’ve entered a new age, one where communications must be unified and work methods made flexible in order to achieve optimum results.

You can utilise flexible working practices and technologies to turbocharge your workforce’s productivity. Here’s how:

Work/life balance

Remember the noughties, when BlackBerries got nick-named “Crackberries”? Such was the unhealthy employee obsession with a relentless need to check emails.

Now that we can email and work from almost anywhere, learning how to switch off and maintain a good work-life balance has never been more important.

In fact, when office workers were asked “which of the following are most important to you in your working life?”, the largest response wasn’t fair pay, job fulfilment or career progression, but “maintaining a work-life balance”.

Facilitating something that important to employees will give them a serious morale boost. And ensuring they are unstressed and happy within the business will work wonders on their productivity.

So how to enable it? For many, working from home and flexible working, also known as “flexi-time”, is the answer. And the government support it strongly too. It is now a legal obligation for businesses to consider flexible working requests from parents with young families.

And with the Olympic Games just around the corner, the government is urging businesses to let their staff work from home during the Games in order to minimise potential disruption, and to ease the strain on London’s public transport.

But Olympics or no Olympics, the benefits of flexible working are being advocated more and more. In February this year, O2 conducted a one-day pilot where 3,000 Slough workers worked from home. Collectively the staff saved £9,000, simply by commuting less.

Perhaps more importantly, more than one in three workers (36 per cent) said they were more productive at home than at work. The reasons are straight forward enough; quieter surroundings (depending on where you live), fewer interruptions from colleagues, and a break from the daily routine all add up to a renewed approached to working.


It would seem that multi-tasking has never been more prevalent and central to our way of working. We shut our computer down at the end of the day only to find a dozen emails still open and unsent, tabs displaying material we haven’t got round to reading, and an angry red light flashing from the desk phone.

We’ve still got emails to write, calls to make, papers to read and messages to listen to. Not to mention conversations with colleagues to finish.  We need 10 pairs of hands, or at the very least, our hands free.

A new generation of headsets offer the solution. They have been developed to provide office workers with optimum sound quality and comfort. Fully compatible with softphones (internet telephone programmes such as Skype), and ideal for conference calls, these headsets allow workers to multitask while enjoying top of the range noise cancelling features and flexible boom microphones.

And thanks to wireless and Bluetooth technology, office discussions no longer need to end in the office. Bluetooth and wireless enabled headsets mean we can continue the conversations we need to finish while moving from office to taxi to destination.

Instant messaging

Instant messaging programmes like MSN and iChat are no longer the domains of kids and teenagers. When used effectively their benefits are invaluable; they save time and facilitate better dialogue, resulting in turbocharged productivity.

Think about it. Normally, you’d have to open a new email, write: “Dear Jess, can you please double check if Mark is available for the sales meeting on Friday afternoon as I’ve not had a response to my calendar invite. Thanks, Kind Regards etc”. Then you have to wait for a response that could take any number of minutes or hours – for all you know, Jess is chatting with Sally at the water cooler or has been called in for a meeting.

Imagine instead the following scenario, conducted using an instant messaging programme. You simply type: “Jess, you there?” No response means you try somebody else from that department, and time wasting is kept to a minimum. Whether Jess responds or not, you’re far more likely to get a fast answer.

Files can also be sent through instant messaging, and many programmes allow the transfer of larger files quicker than email servers, saving you from the hassle of using an FTP or USB stick. This becomes especially useful for transferring files to people in other organisations and outside of the office.

The modern mobile workforce

Using intelligent headphones, instant messaging and other tools – such as video conferencing and data sharing – all add up to a more seamless work environment. These technologies underpin the modern workforce: efficient and highly productive wherever they are, because they have the tools to be responsive in the ways that suit them best.

Jabra calls the new workforce “Generation M: the mobility and multi-tasking generation”. For this generation, work will not be defined by the office, but by the technologies and devices with which we communicate and carry out our work.

These tools are on the rise; technology cannot, and will, not be held back. Employers that choose to embrace and ride this wave will reap the rewards of a motivated and dynamic workforce.

For those that don’t, their employees will, as Dolly sang, simply “tumble outta bed and stumble to the kitchen, pour myself a cup of ambition, yawnin, strecthin, try to come to life”.


[BOX OUT] Headsets by Jabra

·         Jabra UC VOICE™ 150 – corded UC headset range that is compatible for softphone usage

·         Jabra UC VOICE™ 250 – corded UC headset range that is compatible for softphone usage. Most portable product in the range, so is probably the hero product in this range

·         Jabra UC VOICE™ 550 – corded UC headset range that is compatible for softphone usage

·         Jabra SPEAK™ 410 – portable USB plug-and-play speakerphone unit

·         Jabra SUPREME UC™ – new Bluetooth headset that works with both softphone and mobile

·         All of these products are available in standard USB and Microsoft® Lync™ variants for full online functionality and call control


About the survey

*The survey was conducted by OnePoll from its panel of 100,000+ members that have agreed to take part in surveys. The total sample size was 1000 UK office workers. Fieldwork was undertaken between 25th – 30th January 2012 and the survey was carried out online.

Read the full report GenM: Defining the workforce of tomorrow

About Jabra

Jabra is the brand of GN Netcom, a subsidiary of GN Store Nord A/S (GN) – listed on NASDAQ OMX. Jabra employs approximately 850 people worldwide and in 2011 produced an annual revenue which amounted to DKK 2,106 million. Jabra is a world leader in the development, manufacturing, and marketing of a broad range of hands-free communications solutions. With a reputation for innovation, reliability, and ease of use that goes back more than two decades, Jabra’s consumer and business divisions produce corded and wireless headsets, plus mobile and in-office speakerphones that empower individuals and businesses through increased freedom of movement, comfort, and functionality. 



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