Since the dawn of time people have gone to work.
However, in the wake of the 21st century, the “idea” of work and how it is conducted has evolved.

(Approximately an 8 minute read)

In 1981, Dolly Parton released the song “9 to 5”. Interestingly, it seemed the general populace were already not keen on a static 8-hour day as the song only ever reached number 47 in the UK charts.

The idea of the rush hour, with cramped public transport and that one person who refuses to shower is something that nobody has ever woken up and looked forward to. Business was originally defined by employees clocking in and out 5 days a week at a very static time but, there is always a rebel in the family.

This rebel was, the travelling salesperson. They were the original pioneers and career go-getters, having broken free from the shackles of the office desk and 9 to 5, these workers set their own schedule to meet the targets they needed to achieve.

However, 3 years after Dolly Parton’s catchy tune, the first of the Millennial generation started to emerge and with them, the idea that more work could be conducted remotely by harnessing the constantly evolving technologies available to them.

Millennial’s began to work smarter rather than harder by the early noughties, adopting new opportunities to have a better “life-work” balance to deliver rather than the usual “work-life” balance which in more recent times, is being frowned upon due to the mental and physical health implications that come with it. So, with this new view on how work can be conducted, remote working is becoming increasingly desired.

And so, with new times come new ways of working but, this leaves many employers confused and questioning whether to ditch the traditional office and daily grind in favour of swapping it all for co-working offices, remote/hub offices or even allowing a work for home policy.

Remote working

An artwork screenshot of Skype.

Surprisingly, remote workers tend to be far more productive then those who commute to a centralised workplace. Some of the “science” behind this comes from reduced distractions while working remotely compared to those in an office environment having to compete with “watercooler talk” and office banter.

Along with the reduction in distractions, the increased ownership and recognition of trust a remote worker feels also allows a workforce to manage their time and quality of delivery far more effectively.

If we consider these new technologies that allow workers to work remotely, the same tech also allows the employers to track, with greater accuracy, the behaviours/interests/habits of these employees. Therefore, this shared ownership benefits both parties by providing a sense of trust, achievement and pride to the employee based on success metrics while the employer benefits from engaged/productive teams and cost savings, decreased attribution and increased profitability for the company.

A survey conducted by a conference call provider, Powwownow, states that more than 50% of companies and organisations now allow remote working due to the benefits that arise for both the employer and employees.

However, while everyone has the potential to be a remote worker, there are 2 key factors in what make a good and bad remote worker:

Communication and Work Ethic.

With a remote worker usually being detached from the team and essentially working “alone” the need and, basically, requirement to communicate regularly and effectively in second to none. While “watercooler” talk is a potential distraction because Karen heard some gossip about Frank, it also provides an opportunity for employees to share what is going on with their current project across not only members of the same team but also, across other teams.

For more information on communication services such as Skype and Slack, check out this article

The employee’s work ethic is also incredibly important. They must be willing to complete the work required of them in a timely and professional standard and not sacrifice quality for that regular gym class and a cheeky nap afterwards! That said, a remote worker tends to perform a lot better due to the reduced stress and higher levels of energy that come with a flexible work arrangement.

Interested in building up a better team? Take a look at our blog on ‘building up your email marketing team’

So, for all of you budding employers out there who are still on the fence, there is officially a Flexible Working Awareness Day! Yup, this is “celebrated” on May 6th, which is a Wednesday in 2020 and the whole reason behind this Hallmark day is to promote new working structures and practices.

Flexi-time

Regardless of your occupation, having the ability to organise your working hours in a way that suits you, could be the easiest way to maintain a steady life-work balance.

Flexi-time is exactly what it sounds like, flexible time, and allows employees to fit a full work routine around their lives.

This is usually an agreement with both employer and employee to deliver a specified number of hours per week (let’s say 40 hours for example) but, on a flexible basis.

Flexi-time can be broken down into the following example “slots”:

  • Flexi-arrival (between 07:00 and 10:00)
  • AM Core (between 10:00 and 12:30)
  • Flexi-Lunch (12:30 to 14:30)
  • PM Core (14:30 to 16:00)
  • Flexi-Leave (16:00 to 18:30)

So, the employee is required to work between the AM and PM core hours but, can start and finish any time during the flexi hours. They can also have up to a 2 hour lunch but, MUST have a minimum of at least 30 minutes.

The basic idea behind it:

If an employee is expected to deliver 40 hours per week:

They could work for 8 hours for 3 days (24 hours) then, they may only work the minimum of 4 hours one day…

Example: 10 – 4 with a 2 hour lunch (28 hours)

The following day, being 4 hours in “debt”, they work a maximum of 11 hours…

Example: 07:00 – 18:30 with a 30 minute lunch (39 hours)

Although they would still be 1 hour in “debt” there is, in most case, the option of Pre-flexi Arrival (which could be between 04:00 to 07:00). Therefore, by starting at 6am instead, they have effectively worked the required 40 hours!

In other words, flexi-time usually operates much like a credit/debit system. Most employers will often specify the required delivery over the span of a month rather than a single week.

Those who are unable to deliver the agreed hours will find themselves in “debt”, are underperforming and, therefore, may not be suitable for the flexi-time system. However, those who deliver more than the agreed hours will be considered in “credit” and can use these credited hours for flexi-leave the following month or even consider using them as overtime but, only if the employer provides such an option.

Who benefits though?

Although traditionally suitable towards parents or carers, anyone who has worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks is entitled to apply for flexi-time work and many employers will now offer flexi-time working as a part of their employee’s benefits. Employers can also look towards flexi-time to increase staff retention and broaden their recruitment opportunities. This option to utilise more flexible hours could benefit from a boosted morale and an overall higher level of productivity within the business.

Though flexi-time can benefit many organisations, not all will be able to provide such an option. This is where working part-time, staggered hours or shifts maybe options to consider.

Today’s workforce is working smarter AND harder because work no longer has the anxiety inducing ability to impose on the mental and physical health of its subjects. These employees are willing to go that extra mile in most cases but, because employers are becoming more understanding of their needs and have begun to realise that if their employees are happy, it usually means profit for them!

However, it’s all well and good having the right employees but, how are they going to be managed?

Have a peak at our article on ‘What makes the ‘perfect’ manager’