Are fakers ruining flexible working?

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Despite 14.1 million workers wanting to work flexibly, only 6% of job adverts mention the opportunity for flexible working.

Flexible working shouldn’t be confused with home working, which often mirrors office hour. However it often is. The other reason flexible working is failing to take off – despite laws passed in 2014 making it mandatory for employers to consider flexible working requests from employees – is the negative stigma associating flexible working with ‘less working’. We still exist in a long work hours culture where people are prepared to go to great lengths to work harder and longer to prove their commitment to a business and their career. Exacerbating – even endorsing – this situation are businesses who still calculate productivity based on working hours rather than results and delivery.

Working hard is not always the ticket to success. Success is often the by-product of ingenuity, smart thinking and managing change, all of which require dedication but not long hours spent in the office. However too many bosses consider long-hours to be the sign of a true professional and it has ushered in a new type of worker, who seems to be frequently creating opportunity without ever getting anything done. They create churn rather than change and bewitch leaders with complexity.

It is what researchers term ‘signalling’ – communicating a message that work is getting done, when in reality productivity is on the wane. Instead of pouring energy into completing things, it is all about appearance and making sure all the right people are kept in the loop at all times – in meetings and updates. These charlatans are keeping the focus on long-work hours and effectively spoiling flexible working opportunities for others, particularly when they are found out and employers suddenly clamp down on employer activity, distrustful that their whole workforce is putting on an act.

Of course there are some industries where flexible working isn’t an option. Yet there are many more where businesses are refusing to acknowledge flexible options and inadvertently stifling freedom for employees to think freely and creatively – both of which could progress their business further than frequent auditing and box ticking activities.
Business leaders need be smarter when it comes to flexible working opportunities and begin exploring how they can get the most form their staff by allowing them the freedom to deliver.

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