work

Flexible working: fighting for what’s right

working from home

Over a year ago, I wrote a blog about flexible working and I stand by the sentiments resolutely. I believe passionately in offering flexible working. I don’t understand why it’s not adopted more commonly. I just don’t get it. 

This week, I read an article about working from home that wound me up intensely. It compelled me to put my fingers to the keys and type out this blog (with the keyboard buckling at my raging keystroke). Tappity, tap, TAP, TAP!

In this BBC News report on working from home, a ‘City Boss’ states that “People abuse it.” His opinion is that people who make a request for flexible working want a full time salary, but only want to work part time. Another city powerhouse, David Soloman, the boss of Goldman Sachs, describes flexible working as an “aberration.”

Oh. My. God. [I am typing so violently right now!]

What can possibly be abhorrent about wanting to work in a way that suits you best? In a way that benefits your mental and physical health? In a way that enables you to be there for your children or elder family members more often? In a way that enables people to work full stop?

Trust your employees

My take on the ‘City boss’ who feels that flexible workers abuse it? He doesn’t trust them. And that mistrust has little to do with their location. If their work is substandard or performance is not acceptable, do something about it. If they’re not working effectively from home, talk to them about it. Discuss ways to improve it. Find ways to help them achieve more. Act as you would if they were in the office and under-performing.

The issue is not about their location, it’s about their output. In fact, maybe the working model should be based more on output than time spent.

I believe employers should treat their employees like adults. Trust them to do their work. Empower them to do what you need them to do, and provide them with the necessary tools to do so.

Treat your employees like individuals

Working from home solely isn’t for everyone. I have great memories of fun times in the office and I made lifelong friends at the office. Right now, working from home suits me best and I’m not alone. Similarly, being able to work around other facets of my life is my preference. That’s why I advocate offering flexibility and choice for working people.

Full time work isn’t feasible for some people. We’re individuals with our own stuff to deal with. So, trying to make everybody work in the same way just isn’t realistic.

There’s a large proportion of people who would like to work, but can’t do so within the constraints of the traditional working model. Make that more flexible and you’ll welcome more people into the workforce.

Flexible work doesn’t necessarily mean part time or working from home. It could be compressed hours, term time only, flexi-time, job shares or a hybrid. It’s flexible, agile and adaptable. It gives people who are capable of working the ability to do so.

The benefits of offering flexible working

Flexible working or a hybrid model has major perks for employers, not just employees.

Recruitment agency, Capability Jane, specialised in flexible roles. They list benefits including:

  • Improves employee motivation and wellbeing 
  • Gives your business a competitive edge when recruiting 
  • Widens candidate reach – less dependent on location 
  • Reduces overheads 
  • Streamline office space to a hub-based space 
  • Reduce operational costs.

Employee motivation and wellbeing should not be under-estimated. I’m hearing more and more people saying that they won’t stick in a job that doesn’t offer them the flexibility that they want.

I set up my business because I wasn’t finding suitable, flexible part-time roles. Being my own boss, I’m able to work at the times that suit me. Obviously, I’m there to communicate with my clients at key times. But I could also be found logging on before daylight, after my son’s bedtime or over the weekend. For me, it’s about personal choice.

Thank you to these flexible working campaigners

2to3Days – connecting highly capable women with flexible careers. “We’re passionate about advancing women’s equality in the workplace through the power of flexible working.”

Flexible Working People – “The results are in – flexibility drives productivity, profitability, loyalty, and retention. The 9-5 is fast becoming a thing of the past with businesses having now seen the huge benefits of moving to a more agile workplace culture.” “We believe flexible working should be a standard for all, not a privilege for some.”

Mother Pukka – “My flexible working utopia? It would be a world where employees ebb and flow between homework and HQ, using tech to unite them at every turn. It’s not a huge revolution but about evolution in a digital world that’s willing and ready.”

Pregnant Then Screwed – campaigning to “end the motherhood penalty.” “We believe in a world where stay-at-home parents are valued for their contribution to society.”

Photo – Chris Montgomery

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