Work Flexibility is No More a Perk

From perks to policy to an employee-centric company culture: that's the journey work flexibility has traversed over time

learn more about Pallavi Jha

By Pallavi Jha


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Flexible working isn't just for employees. Ultimately, it also benefits organisations in many subtle ways. According to experts at a recent workplace flexibility conference, organisations have started looking at work flexibility as a tactical way of attracting, retaining, and engaging employees than assuming it as a perk, benefit or an accommodation.

The 9-5 work format is on its way out and flexible working is wishfully accepted as a policy in countless offices around the world. However, the change is much more than merely picking one's hours. It needs a huge shift in the employee-employer relationship mindset.

There are pertinent reasons as to why more and more companies are inclining, adopting, and getting on with flexible working environments.

From Policy to Company Culture:

Despite various researches and studies on the benefits of flexible work culture, there still is apprehension to accept this way of working. Flexible work environ isn't just about relaxing the office hours or allowing employees to work from home; to leverage it fully for the organisation's benefits needs a paradigm shift in the ways a company thinks and operates.

To appropriately apply a flexible working policy is about challenging the long-standing conventions of best utilizing the employees and the way things are done. Bestowing greater trust levels and redefining measurement of productivity goes a long way to create a sustainable flexi-work culture.

A LinkedIn 2019 Global Talent Trends Report suggests that 72% of the professionals aspire for workplace flexibility. The report further adds that companies with work flexibility have a huge competitive advantage and there has been a 78% rise in job posts citing "workplace flexibility'.

The tired stereotype that flexible working is for working mothers and caregivers needs to retire now. Organisations across the globe are extremely vocal and launching mega initiatives to move flexible working into the mainstream. These campaigns are aimed to ensure managers collaborate with employees to figure out flexible solutions while comforting organisations to be positive about being more flexible.

Shaking the Stigma of Work Flexibility:

Work flexibility is diverse in its approach and can range from lessened hours and non-rigid working hours to completely working remotely.

Since long, it was assumed that working from home meant relaxing around all day, or at best - maybe replying to a few emails. The expression "flexism" was even devised to describe the bias people face when they request for flexibility. Flexible working certainly impacts well-being and performance, backs and nourishes employee mental health, but it's is a long way for the stigma to subside.

Workplace engagement studies suggest that employees prefer flexible working than a pay rise. Concerned leadership has sensed that in the absence of flexible working, they are accidentally promoting gender biasedness while missing out on talent. The millennials of today's digital borderless world don't just want work flexibility – they expect it.

Learning to Trust:

A successful flexible policy is based on trust. When an employee has been with the organisation for a while, it is common to offer flexible work hours as an incentive. When someone has gained enough trust to be hired, does it not make sense that the trust should be extended to their work hours too? Of course with parameters in place to track and capture the output!

A recent Gartner millennial report suggests that companies who have adopted flexible working acknowledge their previous reservations about staff slacking off are baseless. Furthermore, 78per cent of the employees claimed they feel respected and trusted. The survey stated that employees eventually look for ""freelance flexibility with permanent stability". It is more about assimilation than about work-life separation and balance.

When organisations focus purely on the work being done [within timelines and acceptable quality], employees can concentrate on hitting deadlines and produce results - not on merely tracking the clock tick.

In these rapidly changing socio-economic times, organisations need to place the work flexibility in their strategic decisions bucket to leverage, retain, and attract the best of the talent. To rank high on employer branding parameters organisations should relook on their metrics of measuring productivity to devise and implement a strategy which integrates well with the work flexibility trends and bottom line too.
Pallavi Jha

Chairperson and Managing Director, Dale Carnegie Training India

Pallavi Jha is the Chairperson and Managing Director of Dale  Carnegie Training India which has international partnerships with some of the world's leading firms and brands such as Dale Carnegie, USA (training), and PerformanSe, France (Assessments). Pallavi has diversified exposure to various management practices in areas such as training and development, HR, consulting and business restructuring, covering a wide range of industries from media, entertainment, technology to the financial services sector and the engineering industry.  

Apart from being a keynote speaker and a panel member in various forums on business, HR, training and leadership and an active member of the Confederation of Indian Industry and has held offices of the Chairperson for Maharashtra Council, CII and the Skills Development Committee for CII, Western Region, she is also an active member of the National Council on Skills Development, CII and its National Sub-committee on School Education.  

As a member of Rotary Club of India, Pallavi pursues her efforts in social projects. She has also received recognition as a Paul Harris Fellow. Earlier, was Executive Director of India's leading construction company, HCC, an erstwhile Walchand Group company before starting off her own ventures. She also worked briefly in market research at Feedback Ventures and Procter & Gamble. Pallavi is an MBA from Syracuse University, New York and a graduate in humanities from St Xavier's College, Mumbai. 

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