The past paved the way for the future of flexible working… for now
Disclaimer: We know that not everyone welcomes this work practice and may find the writer’s viewpoints disagreeable, but they are just cumulations of the writer’s thoughts and not facts.
I commend all the companies that are still posting and maintaining flexible working roles where applicable. You are doing the Lord’s work. Although, a renewed pursuit for work flexibility is needed, as we power towards the future. I can see the cracks forming in our lanes, making it harder for us to stay on the right side of progressive employment goals. What will the future of the job market be like for university finalists? What will flexible working look like in 10 years?
(Photo: Mikhail Nilov)
To be honest, I may never fully understand why companies are so against flexible working and working from ‘other’ remote locations. If it’s to save people from their electricity bills and accommodate how much they spend on household and internet bills, they should pay people more, or provide an allowance for that in people’s wages, respectfully. Companies can save on their building maintenance and bills, distributing the retained money into people’s pay checks and bonuses.
I know working from home could blur the lines of ‘when does work end’ but that’s still an issue in itself. Why are people working past their designated hours, creeping into their own quality time with friends, families, and themselves? It’s unhealthy. With proper boundaries set and practiced self-discipline, knowing when to log out of work, when working from home would not be a problem.
I also hear the security issues and the whole ‘connect with your work community and enjoy the work culture’ stuff… yes... but no. There are now a lot of software and virtual team bonding exercises that can mitigate these problems. Working from home is not lazy and it does not infringe on the quality of work people produce. If you hired the right people, where they work should not be the issue. So, hire right, right?
Flexible working has made it possible for parents to be there for their children, to be a part of their milestones. Saving on childcare cost, while being able to bond with household members are an added benefit. It has helped families and those living alone, to save on travel costs and pocket the saved money into something far more worthwhile (like prioritising their wellbeing). We now see in real-time that the long commute to work is unnecessary. We are saved from the seasonal colds that travel on the tube with us day and night because commuters were ram packed in poorly ventilated trains. People can save money on work clothes and stop buying expensive lunches at the M&S and Waitrose strategically placed near offices.
(Photo: Ketut Subiyanto)
Not to mention, people with illnesses don’t have to fake being well in public or force themselves to look and feel ‘fine’ for public consumption. People who have periods can groan in peace at home when their cramps feel like reopened stab wounds. Bad hair days do not have to be public bad hair days. The first day of work nervousness is alleviated as you work in a familiar environment – your home, instead of a too cold air-coned office.
So many benefits have come from flexible and remote working. While the unfortunate pandemic was what propelled us this far into this new normal, I am slightly grateful that this good thing came out of it.
However, the number of job roles highlighting their ‘remote/flexible work perk’ is reducing. We are seeing a decline in workplaces being celebrated for these accommodations for their employees. Instead, going back to the way things were are being proudly sung from the rooftops of office buildings. Managers want us back in their four walls. That is frightening.
Going back to where we once were is not progress, it’s regression! And it should not be applauded. After two years of bliss, saving money where it matters, and looking after one’s health and wellbeing… why now? Why are companies and organisations being so backward thinking in their vision? They should be thinking about the future.
There is so much more that companies can do with remote working. Let’s now try flexible hours (7-3 instead of 9-5), or a four-day work week for those it can be applied to. I know not all roles can adopt a remote working style but to those who can, I urge you to think big. Reimagine the workspace to feel like home, instead of desk and swivel chairs, add some sofas and coffee tables. Change the atmosphere and work culture, so employees do not feel under pressure to perform in a specific way. Encourage staff members to work at a steady pace, prioritising quality over quantity.
The future of flexible working doesn’t have to focus on the working from home aspect, the workspace as a whole should be reviewed too. The readiness and quick adaptability to remote working is telling of how much people needed it. Introducing flexible working as our new normal in 2021 was the middle ground we needed. Now our final form is yet to be decided. What will companies do with the future of flexible working and how will you respond to any new changes? Is flexible working here to stay?
I hope organisations are taking notes. A saying I’ve always loved; we have two ears and one mouth, so listen more and talk less. Let’s see what the future holds.