Employers must learn to be flexible.

Performance should be judged on output – not on the hours someone works. Perhaps an unpopular opinion, but I have always despaired of the comments that fly around a management meeting. The ones that praise the ‘hard workers’ slogging away at their desks from dusk till dawn. 

Or the “good afternoon” remarks made to the poor person who’s just battled the school run and rush hour traffic only to make it into the office a bit later than expected. 

Reflecting on my first full-time contract, it started at 35 hours a week – a typical 9-5 job, with 60 minutes for lunch. It changed to 37.5 hours and then increased to 40. Some businesses currently contract 42 hours for full-time employment. It begs the question: what is the tipping point before an individual stops adding value? 

Employers should really ask themselves whether even though someone is physically present, how much of their time in the business is truly effective. I’ve often contemplated how we have become so bound by and fixated on the number of hours a person is expected to do. 

Even now, in a post-pandemic world, the rigors of the traditional work scenario are clearly coming back into play. That sense of “I must be seen, or I’ll be forgotten or even worse… I’ll be judged”.

Employers must learn to be flexible.

 A place of ‘give and take’

I wonder when the nation will stop asking for more time from an employee – more time away from their home, family and friends. It’s time to realise that, in order to get ‘more’, you have to give something back. 

I don’t think this has to mean a more generous financial package. Flexibility is the best reward you can provide an employee – the freedom to be trusted to manage their own work time and projects.

Prescribed hours at a specific location don’t necessarily make allowances for an individual’s optimal conditions – the time of day they work best; the style they like to work in; the environment and surroundings they thrive within. Nor do they consider circumstances such as young children or a big commute. 

Offering flexible arrangements enable an employee to work during the hours they are most productive. This means a company gets more out of them – higher output, higher revenue and lower staff turnover. Organizations demonstrating such adaptability also reduce their cost to hire because they represent an attractive place of employment.

Being a flexible company also opens up access to a wider talent pool – those exceptional candidates who are otherwise out of reach because they are unable to commit to specific demands such as hours and place of work. 

 Trust and empower

Ex-Amazon recruiter and best-selling author of 7 Critical Resume Mistakes to Avoid Lindsay Mustain said: “Employees have been statistically proven to be more efficient when provided the opportunity to independently work when, how and as much as they like. Flexible options increase both productivity and the time an employee spends working.”

Some day, we might just take a leap of faith – one that gives people the freedom to work their own hours in their chosen environment, which ultimately pays us back with the results they deliver…