The world of work is evolving to allow people to work in their own time and own way. This makes a huge impact on the possibilities for working parents or people with other time intense interests outside of work. However, what does this mean for work life balance? If we work flexible hours to allow us to spend time with our children then when do we switch off and are we able to achieve the '3rd metric'. I believe that we are on the precipice of a big shift in our collective attitude to how we work, but right now I have more questions than answers.
The traditional way of working meant that work happened in the office and home life happened at home, technology came along and changed everything. It was suddenly possible to be online and in contact no matter where you were. The downside being we stopped switching off. So, if we are not working 9-5 but are breaking up those hours to do more in the evening to be freer in the day, where does the time come to switch off and find balance? Is it really possible to do it all and not let our health and happiness suffer?
Brilliant people too often will get fed up with the demands of and pressure of working in the traditional way and can't see how to make it all work and be happy. If companies want to keep these people in their business then big changes are required.
One challenge of flexible working is that we are not all working at the same time so will that impact the productivity of teams positively or negatively? I think the most important factor has to be that everyone is up for making it work. We have to be accepting that people might not be available when we want them, the art of patience is something we will have to cultivate every day. Also, I think companies can make the new ways of working much easier by ensuring employees have the best possible technology and the right software that properly facilitates flexible team working. To the big tech companies I suspect this is normal but to any business not born in the digital age this is much more of a challenge.
Flexible working requires a lot of trust between employers and employees and colleagues. It requires a maturity and a collective commitment to delivering clear outputs. Being at your desk between certain hours will become irrelevant. If our days become less defined by the hours that we do and more so by our outputs the opportunity and benefits could be enormous.
The inspiration for writing this post came from attending the 3rd metric event in London and also becoming a working mum this year. Now that I am on this side of the fence I do see things differently and I also feel a responsibility to make it better for mums who work with me. I am looking for inspiration from other companies and how they get the balance the right, so if you have any ideas please share them here!
There are no easy solutions to this challenge but one thing I am sure of is that success is down to the attitude of the individual, you can't change how other people feel and work but you can change your own approach.