Having had the pleasure of working since I was 15, I have seen several guises of management, working conditions and practices. In my latter years one of the most common frustrations amongst my office colleagues was the lack of support for flexible working.
It was perceived by the powers that be that, if you were not in the office, at your desk or locked in a meeting room then you were not working. Well, employers, hate to burst that bubble (along with countless other bloggers), that simply is not true.
Yes, there is a small minority that will take advantage of trust and skive (I recall hearing how employee would swipe into the building every day, log on and promptly go for a 2 hour cigarette break!). However, the majority of employees are hardworking and actually find being out of the confines of the office helpful to their mind set and ability to do the work on the never ending to do list.
And this is the crux of the matter; the need to balance trust against being able to do your job. And in this modern era of electronic communications blurring the boundary between work and home life, where is the harm in blurring the physical boundaries of where work is conducted?
I found that in one job, my most productive hours (personally and work-wise) came when I was working from my dining table. My employer would gain 3 hours a day from me, unpaid, but I didn’t have to do a commute from hell of 2 hours each way. Yet when I requested to make this a formal agreement (having exceeded all KPIs for the year), my employer refusing citing that an office presence was essential to do my role. Which was interesting, as I had been working from home more than being in the office, and clearly my work hadn’t suffered.
Thankfully I have moved on from that company, but it has left it scars on me, and I worry about doing my hours, being late in due to travel complications and being forced to work late. Having started a new job last week, I naturally was terrified this morning, when I was 1 hour and 30 minutes late in due to something horrific on the bypass…I queued the 5 miles to work in a painfully slow, snail-like fashion…actually a snail would have been faster than me.
So what a wonderful surprise when I started my grovelling and promises to find a way to make up the time, my boss reassured me that actually, being late was not my fault and it wasn’t a big deal. Now I can eat my KitKat without guilt and a yukky feeling in my tummy that my boss is going to bawl me out…phew!