Flexible working practices and the era of trust

28 October 2015. Features.

A new era is upon us in the workplace. Technology and trust has led the way to free people from their desks and, in return, companies are transforming their working practices and their workplace.

Where You Work

For some, the daily commute and a day sat at their desk in the office can feel like a form of paid imprisonment. However, a combination of new technologies and new attitudes to working is freeing people to work in new places.

Key to freeing people is technology. Once they have the devices, cloud storage and good connectivity, they can access information, communicate and complete tasks efficiently from anywhere at any time. Fears that this means everyone will want to work anywhere other than the workplace are unfounded. People still need interactions with others and they still need a hub to call their ‘work home’.

With greater options thanks to technology, the office does need to become a destination which draws people in and makes them want to stay there longer. Diverse agile work areas like those incorporated into the London offices of JustGiving include break-out rooms, creative hubs, social areas and even isolation pods that are all equipped with power outlets and Wi-Fi.  This creative approach to structuring the office environment gives employees the flexibility to move around and work in whichever environment best suits their workloads and their lifestyles.

When You Work

The days when you’d log off at 5pm Friday and have no contact with work until 9am Monday ended many years ago.  People now work more hours and regularly work from home and on their commute. It’s the norm. But taking more hours from your staff without offering them flexibility in return will only lead to disillusionment and ultimately resentment.

For some job functions, flexible hours, through split-shifts, job shares or variable hours contracts, should be considered as employers are now legally required to offer such a scheme. These schemes make it easier for personnel to work autonomously in the hours that work best for them. By firmly placing responsibility with the individual, they now manage their own workloads whilst achieving a healthy work-life balance. Companies such as Netflix and Virgin are going a step further, offering their employees unlimited amounts of annual leave. As a result, staff “morale, creativity and productivity have all gone through the roof.”

How You Work

Demonstrating trust in the employer/employee relationship helps make staff feel happy and inspired and the companies they work for flourish. It’s a leap of faith for some, but the rewards from those who have done it are undoubtedly impressive.

Employees are recruited because they are talented and trusted. Ultimately this should lead to companies giving employees the freedom to manage how they work. By doing this, organisations are able to attract and retain great talent.

Some companies, such as Greenlight Digital, take it a step further with the ‘gamification’ of the workplace. Their King’s Cross tech office has a loft space which includes foosball, table tennis, pool table and electronic games. Employees choose the appropriate time to take a break from their desks and recharge their energies whilst having fun and socialise with their colleagues.

If you would like further advice or information about developing a creative, productive and fun workplace, please drop us a line and we’d be happy to visit and explore how it could work for you.

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