In Depth

Flexible working is the future

Sonal Mishra
22nd Dec 2016
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A lot has been said and written about creating work-life balance, but not even a miniscule of it seems to have been implemented in the real world. This became evident with the recent survey of Expedia. According to the survey, India is the fourth most vacation-deprived country in the world. About 40 percent of Indians do not go on vacations, with work being the main reason. The reluctance shown by employers in letting their employees take holidays is another noteworthy reason, the survey suggests.

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Work-life balance often involves juggling between workplace stress and life priorities. Keeping this in mind, employers have started making efforts to make their organisational structure and HR policies more flexible for those employees who are up to date and perform well. But that's just a perk of being a good performer. This also means that good performers are able to manage their priorities well and hence the benefit. But if you plan to put out flexible arrangement in your organization, you better do it at all levels and across all departments.

Apart from seeing flexible work culture as a perk, employers need to understand that in order to retain their talent force and increase employee engagement, they need to come up with strategies to create customised options for their employees. The key is to be flexible and collaborative in terms of hours, location of work, and leaves. For instance, if ‘work-from-home’ works for your organisation structure, it should be considered a smart move for so many reasons.

Flexible work hours and location are the future

While it remains a highly popular approach among employers worldwide, the requirement of completing the required work hours still persists. Employees are expected to stay logged in for complete eight hours or more, irrespective of whether they were able to complete their task in half the time allotted. When implementing flexible timings or flexible location arrangements, employers need to define certain rules that employees have to follow, while being flexible in their conduct.

Flex time arrangements are implemented to reduce commute times, increase hours of operation, as well as take advantage of varied shifts to work in multiple zones at a time. With businesses now having to meet the 24/7 customer need for their services, there is a huge demand for flexible working. In fact, for most millennials, flexible working is now considered the norm rather than the exception. 

Discuss among your senior management team how flexibility would impact the working of your organizations and what it will look like. Also discuss how the management is going to handle discrepancies and contingencies.

Is it feasible to implement the structure across all levels at a stroke or should you start with the top management and gradually move it towards the lower levels? Discovering the process and finding the right approach to fit the flexible schedule structure in your current organisation structure will ensure you have the complete buy of the general parameters for your business.

Leader support for flexible work schedule is also a key factor to be considered in this process. Leaders or managers should be fair, responsive, and understanding of employees’ personal needs and willingness to meet their work goals even from an alternate location. If the requests made by employees are reasonable and in line with the guideline, then leaders should embrace these requests without any bias. Your employees will be looking for your initial reactions, and a cynical comment or unwillingness from a person of authority can torpedo the whole initiative.

Studies show that companies that offer flexibility at workplace have less employee turnover and higher levels of productivity. When employees feel trusted and valued in an organisation, they feel in control of their lives and tend to put more investment at work that in return helps the organization soar.

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