What does it mean to be a flexible employer?
A bit of personal experience; I have just finished four and half months of maternity leave and returned to work at Gilligan Sheppard last October. I had a slight fear about telling management about the news that I was pregnant because I had only been with GS for eighteen months. I know that some employers try to avoid taking on anyone who plans to have a family, due to the cost and stress of finding someone to fill the position and take up the workload. I think this is the norm in the most other workplaces. However, when I broke the news to GS management, their first reaction was genuine happiness for me and congratulating me, not a word of workflow, how long I was going to be away, when was I coming back, etc. I distinctively remember how I felt after that, a big weight had been lifted off my shoulders, knowing that I would be supported along the way.
Before my bundle of joy arrived, I managed to work a little longer each day and sometimes in the weekend, just to build up some glide time. I wanted to try to finish as much work as I could before the due date. Instead of being micro managed and tightly controlled as in some workplaces, at GS, I was more than happy to work more and take more responsibility because I felt I was appreciated and supported.
For an employer, the productivity of their employee is crucial for their business to survive and succeed, which can easily turn into heavy monitoring and micro management. There is a fine line between having a highly functioning and effective team, versus diminishing trust of believing an employee is capable of getting the job done themselves without supervision. After a long period of time, trust and respect is eroded, no one would know what the employee would do if the boss wasn’t there. In contrast, an employee like me, who feels my life and my career is fully supported by my employer – which is better?
I will always think of my employer with gratitude and be motivated to be a better employee, no matter whether I am actually working in the office or working remotely from home.
Ever since I returned to work, I’ve started to realise there are only so many hours in a day. Especially if you are living in Auckland, the time to get to work and going back home already takes about an hour and half on a good day, sometimes can even go over two and half hours with our famous peak hour traffic issues. Working with a flexible employer becomes a priority for a lot of employees when it comes to selecting a job. Choosing to come to work earlier and leaving before the rush hour traffic starts, can easily save a person 30 to 60 minutes every day. Just imagine what can be achieved with this saved time on a daily basis! Not to mention, eliminating the frustration of sitting in traffic after a long day. Having flexible work hours certainly saved huge amounts of time and energy for me, which can be better put into work hours or enriching my personal life instead of having the typical nine to five, an ever exhausting schedule.
A flexible work structure is also complemented with self-managed little breaks here and there. Instead of staring at my computer screen lost in unproductive time, I take little breaks to walk up and down the stairs or around the block, relaxing my eyes, keeping active and refreshing my mind. This way, I can concentrate better. Obviously this is not achievable when working in an environment with a boss constantly asking me “Where are you?” “What are you doing?”
…Oh, and our glorious ‘glide time’…
Most people already know the feeling when working towards the second half of the year, where there are no more public holidays, and the next ones, Labour Day and Christmas, seem so far away. People are getting tired, grumpy and numb. By working longer hours in the first half of the year, then taking a little time off here and there, definitely re-energises me and enables me to embark on whatever comes to get through that last half stretch.
Being a flexible employer is a long term beneficial thing, don’t let the short term gain and control to take charge of what an employee can offer in the long run and not to mention the loyalty you will generate. You’ve probably already heard the saying ‘happy wife, happy life’. I would say here; ‘happy employee, happy employer, ultimately – happy clients”.