Flexible Working Arrangements – It’s time the Arguments Ended!

Flexible Working Arrangements – It’s time the Arguments Ended!Opinions and policies around flexible working  arrangements fluctuate regularly. Just when you begin to believe that flexible working is finally here to stay, having proved all its critics wrong, with all the facts and stats giving clear evidence of its viability, news breaks of another reputed brand revoking flexible working rights. The latest to join this bandwagon is (Hewlett Packard) HP, who are actively encouraging their employees to come in to office for work.

The debate rages on

These decisions are surprising, and make one wonder at the wisdom of regressing to the old work culture stiflingly constricted by time and location. Evidence suggests that both employees and employers stand to gain through the many benefits of offering flexible working arrangements to the workforce; reduced overheads, higher retention rates, better productivity and a lower carbon footprint are all advantages that reinforce the pros for flexible working. Yet the deliberations continue with the debate now becoming quite a sensitive issue for much of the workforce.

With the kind of connectivity that today’s technology allows, it would be logical to expect location and working hours to be the prerogative of the workforce.  Why then are some businesses still stubbornly clinging to an outdated work culture that lays emphasis on “presenteeism” and a rigid, structured work routine? Is it because of the lack of definitive, conclusive evidence of the advantages of flexible working practices?

A Survey by Catalyst

It may have been with the aim of providing this evidence that Catalyst, a not for profit organisation, conducted a study comprising of a survey of 726 promising employees across the world. The results categorically demonstrate that companies that offer flexible working arrangements had a more ambitious and aspirational workforce. “90% of high potential employees at flexible firms aspired to be a senior executive or CEO compared to only 77% of high potential employees at non-flexible firms. For high potential women 83% of them aspired to the top level but this fell to 54% of high potential women at non-flexible firms.” These figures prove without doubt that flexible working leads to greater profitability and ensures long-term success for organisations.

Of the high potential employees surveyed, 81% said they were currently working with a firm that extended flexible working facilities, which also indicates that this new work approach is not just an occasional perk offered at the whims and fancies of employers, but a tried and tested norm that is here to stay.

It’s time to arrive at a consensus

Consequently, just as flexible work arrangements impact employee aspirations and productivity, the lack of access to a more supple routine can prove a setback to career ambitions and professional growth. Not only would this stunt personal progress but would have negative repercussions on the general economy as it would deny employers from having access to qualified, high potential employees who are required to work from home due to extenuating personal commitments.

It’s time for employers to reach a consensus and decide which to prioritise – face time or flexible schedules. Offering a flexible work routine can attract the best talent, a quicker route to sustained success. Denying it could put an end to all aspirations – those of the employees, and as a consequence, of the employers as well!