Flexibility at work – pros and cons
Everybody talks about flexibility in open spaces. At work, it is reflected in many ways: in schedules, tasks or organizations. Why is it so successful? What are the pitfalls to avoid? Explanations.
Flex company : definition
Close to become the reference model in companies, flexibility is falsely often associated to new evolutions in the work environment and its « uberization ».
In fact, while the progression of the concept is closely linked to the development of digital technologies, the notion of “flexible company” dates back to the 1980s and comes from the researcher John Atkinson, from the institute for study Manpower who first theorised an “organisational and economic scheme based on flexibility in work, job structure and human resources”.
What is a flexible company? Any structure that offers more freedom and responsibility to its employees, the whole becoming agile (see previous article) when flexibility applies to all organisations.
Among the indicators assessing the level of flexibility: flexible working hours or workplaces, collaborative integration of new projects or a strong training policy.
But there is no standard method, each company becoming more “flex” according to its possibilities, its corporate culture and its business specificities.
Flexibility, a lever for a balanced life
If flexibility is developing, it is not simply as a passing fad, but because both employees and companies draw significant benefits from it.
It is now established that empowering employees by allowing them to manage their time independently enhances their feeling of well-being and personal satisfaction by having a positive impact on their investment and motivation. Direct result? The company gains in ability to innovate and competitiveness.
By abandoning presenteeism in favour of results and by developing teleworking, the flex companies gain in efficiency. Allowing employees to work at the most opportune time while reconciling professional and personal life boosts individual and collective performance, reduces absenteeism and sick days while limiting stress, environmental impact and transportation-related constraints.
Know how to identify obstacles
Flexibility is neither a miracle solution nor an innate functioning. Introducing flexibility, teleworking and new productivity criteria into the organisation of a company requires preparation, especially in highly hierarchical structures.
Among the most frequently mentioned blockages: the loss of reference points, the lack of links with colleagues, a lack of cohesion, the fear of not being able to evolve or acquire new skills but also a multiplication of digital and technological supports to the detriment of human contact.
The solution? To set up an adapted management allowing to thwart resistance to change and to federate teams around projects and shared values. All this within a neat and optimised work environment that promotes general well-being.