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Fixed Work Timings or Flexible Informal Work Culture: Which is Better For Your First Startup? How are you running your business?

By Rahul R

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Entrepreneurship is undoubtedly the talk of the town, more so now, considering the fact that wider technology exposure has instilled confidence in the minds of entrepreneurs to begin startups to develop technology-driven models to mitigate pain-points within Indian society today. At this juncture, entrepreneurs are now their own bosses with exclusive offices and are ready to lap up all things considered trendy and modern (Especially the newbies).

Now, if you are a newbie entrepreneur with your own office, what sort of culture you should have within is now a major question as there have been culture wars; a key aspect at this time is the office timings which is a tricky situation to handle especially when your office has a decent mix of both veterans as well as millennials.

In a bid to offer clarity, Entrepreneur India spoke to a multitude of startup owners (entrepreneurs) with flourishing businesses; to try and decode which amongst flexible work timings or straight-forward fixed login hours at the office would do best in bringing out optimal productivity from the employees.

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy – but what about at the office?

When it comes to office work, there cannot obviously be all play; but if you are a first-time entrepreneur, then it would not be an exaggeration to state that millennials today expect equal detox facilities as well.

"They need a workplace that is home away from home," stated, Bina Mirchandani who is a Happiness Mentor, at a recent happy workplaces conference in Bangalore.

But, in your quest to make your workplace more accommodative, you should not compromise on discipline (the new-age discipline which sometimes includes you choosing to sit with your team and work).

"In today's fast moving dynamic times, the idea of having a workforce that thinks only of work from 9-5 means that opportunities are being shackled. The blend of work and play is becoming more and more, and social informal gatherings often lead to large business opportunities," states Rahul Puri who is Managing Director at Mukta A2 Cinemas.

Puri emphasizes the concept of democratization of ideas, moving away from a traditional bureaucratic system where the team leader often takes decisions from even the point of view of the actual team members. Hence, it should do you no harm to actually train a team leader within your business on achieving inclusion and democracy (within the office).

"Empowering and unshackling your workforce to be themselves and think like individuals will yield the best results for any 21st century organization," he believes.

Informal works best for exploring uncharted territories

Agreeably, going a tad informal lets you explore uncharted territories as you deviate from traditional practices; but the key here is to stick to the core office working values whilst facilitating work.

"While fixed working hours will help maintain the company's efficiency, an informal setup or culture will encourage the team to explore new territories and discover innovative techniques/solutions. A leader/entrepreneur will be an effective one, if they can learn to strike a balance in the two. Inculcating a sense of structure while also encouraging innovation within the organization," says Amin Rozani who is Co-Founder and Managing Director at The Spartan poker.

"As a leader, an entrepreneur relies on the efficiency and creativity of their team.

The key here is to accord opportunities and facilities to team members; even if that means thinking from a humanitarian perspective when it comes to enforcing discipline. Undoubtedly, a 9-to-5 work schedule brings with it, on paper, considerably increased discipline; but sustainable policies should be created to make these elements sustainable.

Creation of policies to respect time

While most organizations; even new-age startups formulate policies to enforce organizational rules; it is worth noting that there are few which actually have policies on respecting time when employees (and you) are within the organization working. Now, if you have a 9-hour working shift, never expect your team to work those full 540 minutes.

Here, it is best to formulate policies such that the most productive hours of the day are utilized to the maximum; the other hours could do well to account for self (and work) introspection by the employees.

"The industry today is buzzing with start-ups across various sectors and a lot of them by young individuals who are more focused on the strategy and the idea and less on the execution," informs Soumini Sridhara Paul who is Vice-President, Artist Aloud at Hungama Digital Media Entertainment.

"One of the reasons for a number of such start-ups closing down, in my belief, is the lack of discipline. And discipline starts with respect for time," she iterates.

As per Paul, your organizational policy should also be structured to facilitate constant learning during the most productive hours of an employee's (or your's) work day.

"When you read the stories of some of the most successful entrepreneurs or CXOs in the industry, they all have the following in common – they are early risers, prompt in their response, constant learners and diligent about professionalism and time. Hence, I honestly believe that fixed office timings are much better than an informal work culture because business starts with discipline and adhering to office timings is the biggest sign of that," she informs.

Undoubtedly, followings et routines make people work for something; but at the end of the day companies are to facilitate learning exchange, and not for enforcing regulations; hence, create that much-wanted work policy within your business that teaches your team to value time top perform to their optimal potentials.

"A leader/entrepreneur will be an effective one, if they can learn to strike a balance in the two. Inculcating a sense of structure while also encouraging innovation within the business," adds Rozani.

Key takeaways

When we take into account the above insights, it is evident that discipline with proper policies that provide for optimal time utilization and democratic exchange of information would do your first business a world of good. Convert your team to though leaders; and lo! they give you more than you ever wanted.

Rahul R

Former Staff

Rahul R is a media professional with over 6 years of experience. Prior to Entrepreneur India, Rahul was a Senior Technical Journalist at EFY digital magazine. 

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