March 5, 2020

The Flexible Work Revolution - Why it matters and how it will change the world

Ariane Virtue

I have spent the past 20 years learning everything there is to know about the talent life cycle from attraction,engagement, retention, succession planning and diversity & inclusion.Starting out in an Executive Recruitment position with Morgan Banks, I saw first-hand the transition from placing a job ad and waiting for the phone to ring - or fax to beep - to what is happening in the talent acquisition space now, where companies have sophisticated talent acquisition systems to support talent and business strategies. 

Part of this is increasingly about offering flexible working conditions. 

This is where my passion lies. 

This is a huge transformation occurring in companies of all sizes and shapes - and it’s something that has been happening for years. 

I will ask a room full of executives if they work flexibly and everyone will shake their heads. Then I will ask them if they checked their email from their phone or dialled into a virtual meeting and everyone says yes. Surprise – they are all working flexibly, and they just don’t know it!  It is starting to becoming just the way we work – smarter not harder – efficiently and more productively.

There are some key myths I would like to dispel, namely that flexible work is just for working mums, that it is part-time, that it’s from home, or that it involves a demotion or working for less remuneration.

The eight-hour workday was invented during the Industrial Revolution. People had eight hours to work, eight hours to sleep and eight hours to do other things, all that has change is that life and work has got more stressful, we work longer hours and we now have technology to enable us to work anywhere!

This no longer fits the needs of a growing number of people because society is changing. With the ageing population, a lot of people want to be available to care for their parents or have the availability to look after an unwell partner. They want to be able to take parental leave, even if they are not the biological mother of the child. People want to be able to go surfing when the waves are up, yet still driven to be the best they can be at work and home!

Flexible work means so many things, but it’s critical to understand that it’s not a benefit nor a demand; it’s just a different way of working. 

I first became interested - and subsequently passionate - about flexible work practices when my mum became seriously ill. I spent 10 years juggling a full-time job, while caring for her. This completely shifted my thinking and increased the empathy I feel for people trying to manage the different, and often conflicting, demands of life. 

I have always wanted to help and mentor others. My mum took an ethical, values-driven approach to life that was full of kindness to others and it is absolutely ingrained in the type of person that I’ve become.

I feel like all my experiences have been leading to this point. I know the value and importance of flexible work because I lived it for 10 years and now not only, I am working flexibly, successfully but have the amazing opportunities to embed and normalise flexible working throughout so many organisations, across a variety of industries.

I do believe that I am changing lives and making a difference and working with a purpose.

I know how proud my divine mum would be.

Flexible work changes when, where and how work is done but the key thing is that the work still gets done. There are expectations and responsibilities that need to be met. 

It’s about trust and accountability. We hire adults with skills and experience that we need to deliver on the business strategy - we need to humanise work.

In companies that have implemented flexible work practices, the results have been remarkable. Employees stay with the company longer, they take fewer stress / sick days and their overall productivity is higher. 

Flexible work touches on so many aspects of workplace policy, from wellness to inclusion & diversity and the ability to tap into skills, that are in demand.   

In flexible working practices, you may offer people different options around things like Christmas. If the Christmas holidays are not meaningful, they can take Ramadan off instead. It means fathers in senior leadership positions can show up and help with reading at their kids’ school or train for their marathon. It means women can work in roles where they have the school holidays off meaning they don’t have to pay a fortune for childcare or take annual leave to cover the breaks. 

Flexible work goes a long way to address issues of gender balance because it means that both men and women are offered the freedom to participate fully in their personal life, and this is becoming normalised within organisations.

Let’s do this! How are you working flexibly, successfully? 

Want to know more about how the Flexible Work Revolution is changing the world? 

Contact me directly - ariane.virtue@flexweare.com or visit www.flexweare.com

#FlexWeAre #FlexIsBest #Trust

Written by
Ariane Virtue
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