Flexible Working for the Future
Flexible working, agile working, or as one of my colleagues calls it – “work-life integration” is a hot topic at the moment. Conducting research for this blog has led me to have some interesting conversations with colleagues, friends and my wider network about their thoughts on how flexible working is fast becoming a key element of any employment package.
There seems to have been a snowball effect from the idea of flexible working (and this I know is a generalisation) originally being an option aimed at working mothers, to the option being taken up by more and more dads both looking to fit busy family life around work life while making savings on their second mortgages, or more commonly known as childcare bills!
Much of the feedback I received shows that the concept has moved on further with an increasing number of people looking holistically at integrating their working life around their personal time or vice-versa. As a colleague said to me “if I’m performing in my role, hitting my KPIs why shouldn’t I fit in a tennis lessons on a Wednesday morning? It’s good for me mentally and physically and above all the flexibility gives me another level of loyalty to my employer”.
In a report last year the Autonomy Institute called for a shift in perspective to ‘better work and less work’. Basing one’s performance on outputs rather than time spent physically in the work place gives forward thinking employers an advantage from the first stages of recruitment through to developing loyal employees who are focused on achievement for themselves and the business.
A flaw in this system is that of employers who measure their employees against unrealistic outputs. A contact told me that in his last role he could take as much paid leave as he wanted and work whenever and wherever he wanted (sounded amazing at interview) but the reality was that to get anywhere near his targets in his first year he only took seven days leave, worked a ridiculous amount of hours and ended up resenting the business and leaving. He now has a flexible job he loves, he mirrors his wife’s working pattern and is performing above his KPIs.
We all know flexible working cannot work for every profession; I can’t see manufacturers allowing production staff to pop out to watch the latest Star Wars film halfway through a shift. In the education sector teachers, like nurses, and many others work on the edge of drowning in work load. It will only be fundamental changes in these public service industries that will allow a more agile work-life integration. A contact I have who works in Police recruitment recently told me that they simply cannot compete for the so called Millennial workers who are rejecting shift work in favour of flexible jobs that come complete with funky offices.
I’m pleased to work for an employer who is starting to embrace a more flexible working approach; over the past 10 months I have worked with the Business and Leadership team to move away from the concept of TOIL to outcomes. This has been a cultural shift however, we are all starting to embrace the change, feel more empowered, more in control of our lives and valued by our employer. This can only be good for our physical and mental health which in-turn must benefit our customers, so everybody wins.
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