When we were first asked by an interviewee here at The W1nners’ Club if we have flexible working arrangements for employees, an awkward silence befell the room. The silence was mainly borne out of the fact that nobody on the interview panel had a clue what the candidate was talking about.
After a brief consultation with the guy that comes in to fix the printer whenever it breaks down which at the moment is every day, the awkwardness morphed into a sort of stunned disbelief at the way the world is going.
It turns out that flexible working is a way of working that fits in with employees’ needs. Apparently it’s no longer sufficient to get the fish and chips in on a Friday afternoon anymore – on no! Employees now have the right – repeat – the RIGHT! To request such frivolities as flexible start and finish times or working from home after an eligibility period has passed.
Having finally regained consciousness after collapsing from shock, we thought it would be a good idea to explain to the world why flexible working will more than likely precipitate the beginning of the end of human civilization.
Working from home? Seriously – whatever next? Paternity leave?
1. Job Sharing
This is where two people do one job and split the hours. The phrase, ‘too many cooks spoil the broth,’ immediately springs to mind. It’s hard enough to create a cohesive team spirit, free from office politics and in-fighting when everybody does their own job. The thought of getting people to share a job is the corporate equivalent of polygamy – fine if it has been a part of your culture for several millennia or you happen to be the South African President Jacob Zuma, but extremely challenging if not.
2. Working from Home
This is where an employee does some or all their work from home or somewhere other than the office.
Before we sat down to write this article, we knew that we would have to invest in extra quotation marks because of the plethora of concepts associated with flexible working that have absolutely no basis in real world fact – the first of which we will use for the term, ‘Working.’
It’s hard enough to keep staff focused on the job in hand if an employee’s ear is within, ‘pinging range’ of a rubber band, so imagine how hard it must be to motivate staff that aren’t even in the office.
The second set of excessive punctuation marks have been allocated to the term, ‘from home.’
We once had a freelancer that worked, ‘from home,’ and the said individual was called in for an urgent team meeting after a particularly disastrous event involving the threat of legal action from a huge car manufacturer that we had written a spoof article about. It turns out the freelancer in question had apparently moved house over 6 months previously without telling us – to Kingston Jamaica! This of course meant he wasn’t able to attend the emergency meeting in question and won’t be able to attend any subsequent emergency meetings that aren’t going to be held in the land of Reggae and fried plantain at any point.
So you see – if you allow people to work from home, it’s possible that they may decide to move 6000 miles away without telling you – which is a total nightmare in terms of micro-management.
This is where an employee will work less than the standard full-time hours and is usually manifested by fewer days in the office.
We don’t have a problem with staff spending less time in the office per se, but it’s the amount of time they have available for misdemeanour away from it that raises our concerns.
Here at The W1nners’ Club, we tend to see a direct correlation between the amount of staff absences we have and how much time they’ve had away from the office that precedes them. For example, the average weekend usually yields the odd sickie on a Monday morning, whereas this shoots up significantly after a bank holiday where staff have had extra time to indulge in all day drinking sessions. On that basis, just imagine the attendance levels if staff have been off since last Wednesday!
4. Compressed Hours
This is basically full time hours that are squashed down into part-time attendance and was clearly invented by somebody that has never had to manage anyone. Think about it. When you work a standard 9-5, a significant proportion of your time is spent ensuring staff remain productive and motivated. If staff hours lengthen as a result of them now working only 3 days a week, they’ll have to be watched from 9am until whenever they finish at night. The obvious question that follows therefore is – by who? Nobody that works in a position of seniority here at The W1nners’ Club that’s for sure!
This is where an employee gets to choose when they start and end their working day – which is a bit like letting a convict decide their own jail sentence.
6. Annualised Hours
This is almost as morally-debased as flexitime, only the hours an employee is obliged to work comprises a total that can be spread out across the year. With annualised hours you could in theory have somebody that is only in the office for 6 months of the year but still qualifies for overtime, sick pay, annual leave……..shall I go on?
7. Staggered Hours
The employee in this scenario has different start, finish and break times to everyone else. This is all fine and dandy in theory, but just you try having a word with them about their time-keeping!
8. Phased Retirement
A physicist would probably think that phased retirement means that a person retires at the same time or, ‘in-phase,’ with everybody else – but the physicist would be wrong. It actually refers to the default retirement age that has been phased out and the fact that older workers can choose when they want to retire. This means they can reduce their hours and work part- time if needed. Again – this shouldn’t cause problems in theory, but we know for a fact that getting a market share report submitted on time from a 70 year old that knows he won’t be at the company in 6 months (or possibly even alive for that matter) will be a bit like trying to get a Lion to adopt a vegan diet!