What do working hours mean these days?
Throughout my education and indeed my early working life I was always led to believe that 9-5 or 9-6 are the normal working hours. Thats how business operates. But it’s not true is it?
Firstly, a business operates 24/7 no matter what ones opening hours are. Secondly, everyone is different, some people work better in the am than pm and vice versa.
Thirdly, the days of people coming to the office at the same time and all leaving at the same time are long gone. Technology allows us to be far more flexible with working locations and times so why don’t more businesses embrace this element of todays society?
I think two reasons:
- People need to work together to make things happen and thats easier face to face and
- It’s a new ideology and model and thus difficult to implement (how do you control productivity? communication is diminished, etc…)
These are very valid reasons and I for one do buy into them but i don’t think it as black and white as one might imagine nor a show stopper to having some balance. Yes, people definitely need to see each other face to face and communicate but it might also be possible to introduce flexible working hours. Most of us don’t work for cash, we work to make something. Cash is a motivator but it’s not the biggest. Flexibility and an understanding employer are far more valuable.
On that basis would it be possible for , say, working 3 days int he office and 2 days out / home / away? maybe.
What would make it work?
Clarity, Trust and Communication.
Clarity – of role, goal and mission – vital and easier said than done.
Trust – by any manager to any employee that they’ll get the job done (see point 1)
Communication – clear, concise and frequent, forget email, use messenger, the days of email are soon over.
These three elements are cardinal rules, if any single one is broken then the model immediately fails and with potentially harmful consequences (loss of job is one example!).
I know from first hand experience the difficulties of managing a ‘virtual’ team but it can pay tremendous dividends if done well. Yes, it has it’s downsides but I think the upsides of employee satisfaction, loyalty and engagement far outweigh any of these assuming you’ve employed A Grade people whom you want to keep!
Society at large moves ever closer to the empowerment of the individual. By that I mean the barriers are falling all around for those who wish to enter into business and / or yield their assets through the shared economy. Communication tools have never been so good, the individual never more empowered and business employee structure never more flexible. Face to face woking is vital, but so is employee loyalty and engagement, there is a balance to be struck. The tide can’t be turned so the sooner businesses start to embrace these new opportunities the better for all concerned.