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Workplace Flexibility: An Interesting HR Concept

27 Feb

business_meeting_2The world around us has changed so much that some of the things we see nowadays are things we would never have imagined. Workplace flexibility is a concept which if well nurtured will transform the world of human resource.

The whole idea behind the concept is to have some elasticity when it comes to when, where and how work is done. It affords the employee convenience to work at times when they are comfortable and from places where they feel comfortable. At the end of the day, tasks are completed and work is still done. A few HR personnel argue that work is done more efficiently because people work in a more relaxed environment.

What is Workplace flexibility?

It is basically an arrangement between an employee and employer where they agree to have some elasticity in terms of how, when and where work is done, provided that the objectives of the company are met. It should afford the employees some convenience, but at the end of the day they have to do all that is required of them, so as to meet all their obligations to the employer.

Possible ways in which the flexibility comes in

1.      How work is done

There are a number of options here. For example, when it comes to hourly jobs, the employer and the employee can agree to use a monthly or annual hours instead of the traditional weekly hours. This way an employee can take a 3 month holiday provided he gives the employer high quality hours as agreed. People are also at liberty to share one job, depending on the arrangement. One can work from Monday to Wednesday while the other works for the rest of the week.

2.      Where people work

The conventional style of working involves people waking up every day to go to work. Workplace flexibility allows employees to work remotely or from home. How it is effected is highly variable, but there should be an agreement on how many days an employee works at home, as well as how regularly it should be done. Working remotely allows the employee to work in a client’s workplace or from an office that is not his or her main workplace.

3.      When people work

Here, the human resource manager and the employee agree on the time when work is done. For example, if the employee has to work for 8 hours a day, then they could agree that the employee starts his day whenever he is comfortable as long as he is loyal to the dedicated hours. Thus an employee can come to work at 6:00 am and leave at 2:00 pm. He can come to work at 8:00 am and leave at 5:00 pm. Other forms of flexibility on when to work include part time working, part year and variable year employment arrangements. To further illustrate this, workers can put in more hours during peak seasons and less hours during off-peak seasons when there is less work. The amount of leave days can also be altered so as to suit the needs of employees.

Are there pitfalls?

For the arrangement to work, the employee must be very loyal so as to honor the arrangement. It therefore means it might be risky to have such an arrangement with an employee who you have not worked with before. Some employees will fail to honor their part of the bargain, which slows you down.

Sometimes, you need to have an employee around, who you can call upon to tackle emergency situations. This arrangement might not work in this aspect, more so because the employees might be away from the workplace at a time when you need them.

It is quite difficult to promote teamwork with this kind of understanding. Employers’ give up their control over employees, which makes it very difficult to assign an employee tasks which require him or her to work directly with others. Some online software however overcomes this problem by allowing people to interact and have conferences through these platforms.

All in all, it is a good concept. As long as both the employee and the employer agree on how to go about it, is something that should be embraced by human resource departments.

Featured images:
  •  License: Image author owned

Sarah Filer has teamed up with Breathe HR to offer HR advice, Sarah has been in the HR industry for 3 years and Breathe HR is a cloud based HR management system.

 

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