4 Unanswered Question about Flexible Working

4 Unanswered Question about Flexible Working

As the pandemic has reformed our mentality when it comes to a lot of things especially remote working and a blend from home and office, there is no doubt flexible working is here to stay. For an employee, the benefits are simple and work flexibility is the holy grail. After all, who wouldn’t want the option to do their work where and when it suited them?

The pandemic has instituted a societal shift, with an impact for most of us on the way we work. But before we all rush head-on into a brave new world of flexi-hours, let’s just pause for a moment and consider the real nature of the shift, and have a look at what’s really at stake.  Right now, the risk is that many companies, in their desire to appear to be accommodating or delivering short-term cost savings, are making decisions about their workforces and workspaces that could significantly affect their long-term viability. This leaves us with various questions as regards flexible working. Among those questions are 4 unanswered ones. They  include:

1.  Is it a coincidence that Mondays and Fridays are being most keenly sought after as work-from-home days?

As employers and as a society, can we be honest enough to ask the question: are people really seeking more flexibility with their working hours or are they quite simply seeking to work less? After all, the pandemic has not only forced a recalibration by companies about how they do business but also a re-evaluation by individuals of what’s most important to them in life and a realisation they can and should have a choice. Witness the burgeoning property prices in regional Australia as more urban dwellers undertake a pandemic-inspired tree or sea change. Less oversight, a less concrete working structure, a very likely more ‘solo’ working experience. It doesn’t take a genius to see that these things have the potential to reduce workers productivity.

2.  Is the best talent of yesterday the best talent of tomorrow if their newfound flexibility affects organisational productivity?

This is a question that also has profound implications for how businesses think about compensation. Will they need more people to achieve the same outcomes? And if so, does that mean a rethink of the salaries they pay? The benefits of a greater work-life balance might hold for older generations, and especially working parents, but most certainly doesn’t ring true for those who are just starting their careers and yearn for the mentoring that those of us of a certain age benefitted from. COVID-19 has already created a generation of employees who have never met their co-workers in person and have no real idea what it’s like to work as part of a physical rather than a virtual team. And company bosses are kidding themselves if they think there isn’t a pipeline talent exodus on the near horizon. The overarching danger as we reimagine the workplace is that managers end up advocating a work-from-home arrangement that works best for them and their life stage, but which is borderline disastrous for an entirely new generation of employees.

3. Are employees going to have to “earn the commute”?

It is incumbent on every business to provide the optimum workspace for their employees. But surely the paycheque, the prospect of career advancement plus the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded individuals in an industry you find interesting are enough of an incentive to show up to work without your employer also having to turn the office into a kombucha-soaked fairground attraction.

4. How many businesses have grasped the difference between working from home as a strategic decision, as opposed to a blanket one?

If you need a day at home to do the sort of work that calls for solitude then you should take it. But if your diary is packed with Zoom calls, maybe you should be in the office.  Late last year, one of our bigger customers sought to sublease 25 per cent of the space they occupy in one of our major CBD office towers – expecting the new hybrid, or blended, workspace would mean fewer employees in the office. In recent weeks though, they reversed that decision, realising it was premature and chose to maintain their pre-COVID-19 office footprint.

Ways to Mitigate Flextime Problems

  1. Form a working group of employees, including managers and supervisors, and asked them to review flexible scheduling policies offered by other companies. The team could be charged with making a recommendation regarding the feasibility of flextime and the type of program that would work best for the company.
  2. Educate employees about flexible scheduling and how to use it appropriately. Employers should clarify expectations about scheduling transparency and hold employees accountable for sticking with the schedules that they have set for themselves.
  3. Set consequences for employee misuse of flexible scheduling, such as writing up the employee and requiring him to hold to a standard schedule as part of a performance plan.
  4. Provide employees with tools for staying in touch even when they are not in the office. Online calendars, communication apps, such as Slack, and videoconferencing are just a few options

There’s no doubt a blended workplace is the future – but there are still many unanswered questions in many organisations. And the very real danger is that if they are not considered carefully, some businesses may not only underperform, they may fail.


  • It’s time for tough talk about flexible working

By Kevin George


  • CBDs are battling for survival

By Robert Harley


  • The Advantages and Disadvantages of Having Flexible Working Hours

By MinuteDock


  • Negatives of Flexible Work Schedules

By Lainie Petersen