Flexibility at work - time mobility

Oct 7 2016
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Is flexibility now a reality in the workplace? And is it really working? The assumption of control over one’s own time and deliverables does seem to be a great way to work and live, and it appears to be is a high priority for those entering the business world.

Decision makers in business, along with HR managers and recruitment consultants, are very much aware that employers are looking for guidance and ideas as to how to attract and retain, while new recruits are looking for career opportunities that are aligned with their lifestyle choices.

It is becoming a given that there should be a balance between work and home. There are professions, though, where the work hours are flexible but extensive eg Auditing, Medical, IT services.

Yes, people still need to prove themselves, initiative is expected, hard work and commitment continue to be viewed as non-negotiable – but the dynamics of employer/ employee relationship has changed.

And it is innovation in ICT that has paved the way. The mobile workforce is giving both employer and employee more choices. Scenario planners are discussing a totally changed workplace within 10 to 15 years, suggesting that the jobs we currently see as critical might not exist.

The advantages of a mobile workforce can include an increase in productivity, lower total cost of ownership and a wider, more direct reach to the market.

In theory, an employee should be just as effective and productive within his or her own environment, working at their own time & pace as one who clocks in at an office every day. The employee does need to be aware of the risks and challenges around promotion and receiving new projects when working predominantly from home, as the lack of regular interaction with decision makers might impact opportunity.

Very clear job specifications, requirements and a successful induction program are key, as is a reward structure based on deliverables. Realistically, it does mean that there has to be a business model and infrastructure that supports flexibility, and this can be a problem.

Your leadership team also needs support in managing a flexible workforce. It requires different skills from managing an on premise team, as well as access to technology that enables good communication. Management has traditionally managed by observation and flexibility does create a more results driven style.

When the term flexibility is used, what does it actually mean? While it may be as traditional as different time slices in the day, it could also be about not coming into the office except for specific tasks or meeting or job sharing, or one week on, one week off, there are many variations…..

It’s not always simple to implement, because it really does depend on the nature of the business, the specific tasks assigned to that job portfolio and the market in which the business operates.

For example, a Receptionist needs to be at his/her desk to allow access into the building from 8 to 5. In most cases, it just isn't practical for this to be a flexible role.

At the same time an Information and Communication Technology support and service consultant/ technician cannot enforce terms of employment which guarantee fixed daily working hours – that criteria simply does not suit the job.

Increased traffic, child care issues, costs of business space, will all feed the flexibility model. The buzz around apps and solutions that enable employers and employees to manage functionality from outside the office, underlies the trend.

The Mobile App we have built at Accsys for smart phones and tablets is directly related to a market requirement for managers to know about resource issues wherever they are.

In the end, the level of flexibility has to be negotiated and decided upon by both employer and employee and, if both sides are committed to the concept, it should improve morale, and add real value.

Accsys PeopleWare Mobi

Edited Article - First published October, 2013.

Links, References and Notes

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Accsys provides people management solutions ie Payroll, Human Resources (HR), Time and Attendance as well as Access Control/Visitor Management.

The company develops, implements, trains and services our solutions. We provide readers, turnstiles, booms and CCTV.

We run both on premise and in the cloud, as well as mobile options for ESS. Recruitment, online education and Outsourcing are part of our offering, too.

http://www.accsys.co.za/accsys-peopleplace-talent-management

email: tschroenn@accsys.co.za
twitter: @TerylSchroenn

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