Flexible working – is it a business necessity?

July 2013 | Servcorp

In theory, it's never been easier for workers to maintain the work life balance. Technological advances, coupled with a few changes in society and the law mean that anyone that needs to work a little more flexibly has every opportunity to, as long as they can take care of their working responsibilities.

In particular, it's the ability to work remotely that's led to most businesses and their employees being able to make full use of flexible working.

Most forward thinking businesses have already embraced the idea, and in situations where traditional office working is made difficult (for instance through health issues, travel problems – particularly prevalent in an island nation like the Philippines - or the presence of young children at home) they're quick to allow employees the chance to work remotely, so long as they can take care of everything they're supposed to.

However, not all businesses are quite there yet. Many business owners have been slow to embrace flexible working. Indeed, one only needs to look at the example of Yahoo chief Marissa Meyer's decision to ban remote working a few months ago to realise that even very modern companies can have this mind set.

Many managers that don't allow working from home state that it doesn't encourage teamwork and communication in the same way that office working does, while others simply state that they don't trust employees to get the work done unsupervised.

There is an argument behind the first point, but at the same time we've all seen stale office environments where communication and bonding is fairly non-existent anyway. Plus, with online communication tools it's hardly like your employees can't talk to one another, even if they aren't in the same location.

As for the second point? There is something wrong if you feel the need to stand over the shoulder of employees and watch them work, they're professional adults!  If they're not meeting their deadlines from home you deal with it in the same way you would in the office – you tell them it won't be tolerated, and if they continue to miss them you change things.

Chances are this won't happen though. More than anything they'll be likely to appreciate the fact that you've accommodated their needs, while trusting them to reach their own targets.

If you're a business manager that's hemming and hawing over letting your employees work remotely, do yourself a favour – let go a little and give them the chance to. You're likely to be pleasantly surprised, and if not, then just reel things back in. It's not the end of the world!