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The pros and cons of the rise in the flexible workforce

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The dawn of remote working has well and truly broken. Even staunch 9-5ers are beginning to see the concept of work in a new light: you don’t have to be within the same old four walls to be productive.

Evidence of flexible working as mainstream lies in the fact that for many professionals – especially millennials – the option of remote working is a must-have for prospective new jobs. As a result, corporates are rethinking strategies, work models and the packages offered to staff whose lives prioritise flexibility.

For bosses eager to keep things fresh, an element of remote working can certainly help to retain the best industry talent, while bringing a whole host of other benefits. But step carefully because flexible has a breaking point.

Below are a few of the main pros and cons to flexible working.

Pros

Better morale: The option of remote working is a huge vote winner among employees. It’s new, it’s cool and puts bolt cutters to the 9-5 desk chain. The feeling of exuberance this snip creates is contagious and will give any workspace a cheerful makeover.

Improved efficiency: Improved morale transforms easily into better performance. More employees than you think will flourish when relieved of that feeling that they’re being constantly watched. Inviting your staff to manage their own time better will often initiate a more trusting work ethic that boosts worker diligence and productivity.

Lower turnover: If employees start searching elsewhere for work, then happier employees are more likely to stick with the jobs they like. This is particularly true if that business happens to demonstrate it’s lenient, open-to-negotiations nature through the convenience of flexible working. Similarly, a worker-first business environment will make your company shine as its name drifts in conversation amid the Robusta aromas of the ethically responsible coffee house, or on the sizzling airwaves of social media.

Lower overheads: A worker with more freedom is happier, more productive and may well get work completed before time, enabling the company as a whole to steadily expand. And one fewer staff member in the office means there’s space for another worker to hot-desk.

Cons

Distractions: Remote and flexible working does not make for the most settled office environment. Workers come and go, phones ring more often and more systems have to be put in place to emulate the conversational convenience of having your boss or staff member sitting next door. The combined effect can be highly distracting, especially for creative types who have personalities like blotting paper at the best of times.

Complacency: Of course, the ‘incentivising responsibility’ of flexible working can tip the wrong way if the worker concerned isn’t of a certain mindset. Working from home or at irregular hours creates a disconnect for bosses who can find it hard to question staff about the state of their workloads. If workers start to take freedoms for granted, flexibility may be exploited, seeing work becoming a secondary concern.

Client / worker breakdown: The concertina working week created by the coming and going of staff can severely disrupt client delivery patterns if bosses do not go to extra lengths to keep track on all workers at all times.

Remote working might be a step in the right direction for leaders and staff alike, but clients expect a five-days-per-week service during business hours and this can cause friction if employees are difficult to pin down, or deliverables fall between the cracks of crazy paving working schedules.

Job role restriction: Sometimes, workers need to be on-site or at specialist equipment to be able to do their jobs. Other roles may demand a hands-on approach from a specific group of people who need to be around each other throughout the day to make things happen; some situations simply aren’t flexi-working friendly, so if this applies to your working space, it’s probably best not to contrive flexibility just for the sake of it.

Conclusion

Twenty years ago, paycheques and material perks were needed to pull the big talent. But times have changed: these days it’s a quality over quantity mindset that’s driving the way we work.

Flexible working is a key component of this mentality and it brings undeniable benefits to any working dynamic. But bosses and staff alike should note that the chain attaching the worker to their desk can just as easily be an anchor.

 

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Tags: Business, Digital Transformation