Flexibility at work


  • Business
  • Saturday, 23 Mar 2013

THIS week I interviewed the former chief marketing officer of an international football club, and he raised an interesting point on companies adapting to different work practices for staff retention.

In the context of local companies going global, he talked about companies allowing for some degree of flexibility in working hours if it would ultimately help companies move forward.

“The competition might get him because they allow him to work from home,” he said.

He seemed aware that his style may come across as being too liberal, but let's face it, this longstanding managerial debate hasn't found complete resolution nor rest.

Technology has brought us to a point where certain job functions do not always demand for workers' presence in the office.

Decisions and content can be generated outside, where networking and new inspiration happen.

More refreshed and productive are employees who are treated as people, trusted as individuals who want the best for themselves and the company.

From casual conversations with executives in various industries, I gather that most do not feel that they are regarded in that esteem.

Again, this is highly debatable since it involves competency and fair assessment. However, executives who have earned that trust to be allowed some leeway are very grateful for it as the ripple positives spill into their family and social lives.

I have two friends who are managers in their respective firms; one reports to a director who encourages her to step in later in the morning so she can nurse her young children and be prepared to work longer, the other, a micro-managing superior who ...

“Micro-managing” says it all.

“What's the matter,” the former CMO had said to me “Are we not trusting our people here?”

On the flipside, it's important to remember the purpose of commitment to office hours, which was set up for productivity, efficiency and camaraderie.

Most times, it serves those purposes and the cycle is only broken by fatigue.

On the flipside, employees who want the merit of trust should perhaps earn it before asking.

And it is fair for those who have a good cause to ask to expect a positive response.

“To keep good people, you have to understand their motivation,” he said.

If the trust issue is such a problem, why not facilitate their moving on?

“If so, it's the company's responsibility to help them walk,” he added. “You'd be sad to lose a good person, but it all comes around. Work with who you have and make it good.”

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