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Putting Flexible Working to the Test - Guest Article by Christina Jones

I’ve worked remotely for roughly half of my career in HR. I don’t mind it, in fact, I quite like it; the flexibility it gives me, the space and quiet time when I need to focus, and it has never negatively impacted on my productivity (even if sometimes tidying that sock drawer really does seem the priority!).

However, it can be lonely. I need to mix it up with actual physical contact with people. Networking, face to face meetings, training and co-working are all things I schedule into my diary. I realise now how much I value these things although video conferencing is going some way to fill the gaps.

I was thinking about how this period of enforced home working will impact on our perception of flexible working going forwards. Whether that is home working, or flexible hours because both will be being put the test.

I’m sure there will be some who will never want to do it again! Others will have found their rhythm and may have discovered it works for them.

But what about businesses?

I worked with a client who was struggling with the concept of flexible working. Some were valid reasons relating to particular departmental activity, but a lot of it came down to trust.

‘people won’t really work from home, they’ll just watch This Morning and do their ironing’

‘how can we manage someone that we can’t see?’

‘the office will be empty’

Now, like for many, they have been forced to get on with it. So the proof will be in the pudding!

I admit that right now isn’t the best time to really quantify the success of flexible working when many are trying to juggle this with childcare, but what I do believe is that it shows it can be done and that quite honestly, many businesses were simply dragging their feet and finding excuses.

Amongst other things, it will give some the push they need to give it a chance. Managers with the tendency to micro manage must find it exhausting, but will likely think it necessary because they ‘couldn’t trust their team to get things done otherwise’. Let’s hope this gives their teams the chance to prove them wrong.

I wonder if employees whose flexible working requests had previously been refused will revisit this, especially if they can now demonstrate it can be done. I’d like to think that businesses will use this time to test their thinking about the need for traditional working patterns. Success should be measured in attitude and output, not whether someone has clocked in at 9am and out at 5pm.  If, in a few months time we see an increase in businesses who embrace the benefits of flexible working then we will have come out with a positive.

Time will tell.

Christina Jones is a Reward Consultant helping businesses create frameworks which enable them to reward employees fairly & consistently.

Christina can help you identify strategies that will help you respond to the needs of your business and the people who work for you and create policies to drive employee performance and engagement and to help you position yourself competitively in the market.

 

For further information connect with Christina on LinkedIn

 

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