For most people in jobs, a normal workday looks nothing short of a one-dimensional movie. Get up at 6 am, get ready for work, rush in to take the 8 am jam-packed metro to reach work by 9.30 am. Work the entire day, battle deadlines, client expectations and boss diktats and take the same 7 pm jam-packed metro back home. This is how we spend a drab and uninteresting day of our corporate lives. What is worse is that we are expected to follow the same one-plus-one routine for 300-plus days in a year.
Apart from making us corporate zombies with no chance of self-betterment, this one-dimensional approach to work kills off the greatest differentiator between man and machine – creativity and the joy of working. Research has found that doing a one-dimensional job reduces the urge to put in efforts and leads to lesser efficiency. Bringing greater churn to the always-on work culture of today, flexible working model in its various forms, including flexi time, work from home, job sharing and micro-hours is the answer to bring in greater efficiency into work cultures across the world. Today, the 9-5 work routine is becoming passé with employers and employees alike inclining more towards flexible work practices. The employer-employee congregation is also opening up to the benefits of this new working style, and are accepting the fact that unboxing of traditional corporate cultures is the key to the future.
From France, where a 2014 labour agreement ensures that workers can disconnect beyond a 35-hour work week, to Sweden that is working towards a six-hour-a-day work culture, societies across the world are opening up to flexible working hours that offer the convenience of greater work-life balance. Experts believe that letting employees work with ease ensures lower absenteeism, and better mental and physical capability to discharge their duties.
Flexible work arrangements are relevant to today’s business needs as it allows organisations to utilise their resources judiciously. This allows managers to cater to present and future business conditions more proactively. Creating an agile business environment and flexible opportunities also helps accommodate complexities of trade and allows streamlined decisions to be taken in the business.
Offering parity to work cultures, flexi-operations enables advantages like having extended working hours, improved productivity, lower attrition rates and a wider resource pool to the businesses. On the other hand, it offers avenues to pursue interests or education, and a chance to spend valuable time with family. This makes for a win-win situation for both the parties, and a positive and profitable ambience for the businesses.
Today’s evolving work context is giving rise to unique situations and challenges that are altering the way millennial businesses work. These situations can only be addressed by newer solutions, including flexi work arrangements, Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) systems and autonomous managements.
Take the example of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group that is among the top corporates that employees yearn to work at. Known for its forward-looking employee policies that have been ahead of its times, Virgin Group is a strong believer of flexi work systems. Quoting their statement, “At Virgin, we believe flexible working is smart working. Through a number of flexible working initiatives – like working from home, unlimited leave, integrated technology, and well being in the workplace – we treat our employees like the capable adults they are. This is one of the reasons why we attract such brilliant staff,” goes to show why Virgin feels flexi work is the vision of the future.
It is well known that great corporate policies attract great talent. Being positive and flexible gives an undeniable confidence to the employees which they bring into their everyday work environment. Also, these positive work changes ensure greater work savings to the businesses as well. While happy employees believe in completing their assignments well in time, the unhappy ones are those who decide to sit over their jobs. Hence, organisations that encourage positive employee policies get smart working and happy employees in return. This is reiterated in the words of Sir Richard Branson, “Flexible Working is Smart Working”.
It is the fact of today that flexible working benefits all employees and the businesses they are employed at. It helps bring out their best abilities and lets them thrive in an environment that breeds competence. It is said that the oft-repeated route is not always the best path to corporate realisation. But it is thinking out-of-the-box that opens up doors to success. Flexi working is one such ingenuity that more and more corporates should incorporate as one of the basic tenets of their corporate culture to be in sync with time and become a preferred organisation of prospective employees.
- By Zubin Zack, Director and Chief Recognition Strategist, O.C. Tanner India
The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.
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