I was chatting with a group of employees a couple of days ago about how our employer is wanting to promote greater flexibility in the work place.
When I first joined the business no one would have thought there was any way of working except from 9 to 5 with a set lunch break. Back then, no one would have contemplated that a group of employees could start and finish their work day at different times, or that a day or part of a day or in fact every day could be worked at home or from some other location, or that you might work more hours on one day so you could work less on another, or that part-time, job share or multiple jobs could be contemplated. In my most recent managerial role, I oversaw one position shared by two employees, with one of these living two hours away in the country, commuting to work two days, with additional hours worked from her country location.
We’re told that flexibility, like diversity, brings with it a range of benefits such as
- Better work-life balance
- Improved morale and job satisfaction
- Increased productivity
- Reduced absenteeism
- Retention of employees
- Improved capability to meet demand
If I reflect on my own use of flexibility in the workplace over time I can check off each of the points above, and more. While there was no flexibility when I entered the workforce, in fact even maternity leave was rare, but over my working life I have had the opportunity to work part-time (twice), vary my start and finish times, take leave without pay (twice), work from home on an adhoc basis, take study leave and vary my leave options.
While not all flexible options can work in every situation, sometimes it’s a matter of approaching a situation with a fresh mindset; thinking outside the box can bring within it both flexibility for an employee and perhaps even a fresh approach to an old way of doing things that can lead to enthusiasm, motivation, innovation and productivity increases.
Jesus approached things from outside the box. He was most certainly flexible and might be described as the original bluesky thinker. How else would he have fed five-thousand people with just five loaves of bread and two fish.