Flexwork: Use it for double advantage
Who can resist the idea of working on unconventional hours, having more time off to spend with family and the flexibility to take time off for a personal errand or an impulsive vacation? Flextime and flexwork, as they are popularly known, allow people to choose a work roster to suit their convenience - which means, rather than building your life around your work schedule, you could schedule work to snugly fit into your life. Sounds heavenly? Flexwork can indeed be a big be
nefit for professionals who are trying to balance work and family.
Flextime and flexwork permit employees to choose, within specified limits, the hours that they will spend at the office.
Companies benefit too, from more efficient use of expensive office equipment and space and increased worker engagement and productivity.
Many organisations also acknowledge that this is a smart tactic to retain valuable staff who might not be able to work to rigid schedules.
There are many variations of work-life flex offered by companies to staff, which include:
Staggered work day, where employees are permitted to stagger a few hours each day, i.e., they can come in a couple of hours late in the day and make up for it by working after-hours or vice versa.
Annualised hours, wherein a total number of hours that the employee has to put in for each year are agreed upon, and these hours are served out in variable quantities over the year depending upon need.
This kind of flex is particularly common in industries such as banking, finance and marketing that have temporary peaks and troughs of labour demand, and it ensures that there is no wastage of man hours or unnecessary overtime stipulations.
Zero hour contracts, are a form of temporary work arrangement between staff and employers, where employees are taken on assignment basis, or as and when need arises.
Time accounts, allows employees to build up time credits, as in situations where an employee regularly puts in overtime for completing a particular project or meeting an important deadline. The time credits can be used by the employee at his discretion.
Telecommuting, many businesses allow staff to work some hours each month from home; others recruit fulltime home workers, while yet others work from mobile offices and designated kiosks for part or whole of the week.
Part time jobs, job-sharing and phased retirement. Part time jobs allow employees to work reduced hours, which may or may not have fixed start and end times. Jobshare is another structured form of part-time working, wherein a job is split between two or more people.
Phased retirement allows mature workers nearing retirement to gradually decrease their work or work hours over a few years prior to complete retirement from service. This is often combined with job sharing, part time or some other flexwork arrangement.
An organisation seeking to improve the quality of life of their employees through flexitime options must address key issues, as a badly managed flexibility programme can be misused and eventually fail.
A flexibility programme has to be strategically linked to the organisation’s vision, mission and culture. It should also be well integrated with its needs and functional methodology. A successful flexibility programme also needs to be cost effective, easy to monitor and administer.
A few points to keep in mind when implementing flexibility programmes:
Consider providing some sort of flexwork arrangement at all levels of the organisation. Any flexibility option must be uniformly available to all employees, or must have clearly specified criteria that qualify employees for flexibility.
Consider offering a range of flexibility options that allows employees to choose an arrangement best suited to the nature of their work and life circumstances. Establish clear policies and metrics for evaluating the performance of flex workers. Communicate the advantages that flexibility brings to the organisation and educate employees on how they can work in a culture of mutual trust and commitment without abusing the privileges. Offer ample opportunities for flex workers to integrate into the mainstream when they are ready. A culture of flexibility makes the organisation an employer of choice. Make flexibility a selling point for your organisation in attracting and retaining valuable staff.
While many companies do acknowledge the need for flexibility and offer some kind of concession to employees aimed at achieving better work-life balance, they stop short of going the whole nine yards.
Obviously only some jobs and careers fit in well with flex schedules, and most employers used to the ‘managing by eyeball’ system have reservations about monitoring employee performance and productivity.
However, with technology and new work ethics changing the old rules of the game, people are looking for more control over how long they work, where they work and the extent to which they are supervised and managed. With this trend likely to get stronger in the future, understanding and embracing flexwork has become more important today.