9-5 is so last century

GRS BallonSo it’s been a while. Eldest university interviews (check); place offered (check); move house (check); on-going administrative nightmare of changing address details (check); A2 exams for eldest (check); uni offer confirmed (check); move eldest to Liverpool (check); holiday (check). No, wait, holiday? Oh yes, no money left for holiday this year! But anyway, I am back in the business blogging driving seat.

On a serious note, I have been writing a series of articles for a commercial property client exploring the lack of office space particularly in London and the South East which has led to spiralling rents. I won’t go into detail here, you can read more on their website, but it has led us to explore alternative ways of working.

Having been a beneficiary of a forward-thinking boss who allowed me to work from home following the arrival of daughter number two (I have written about this previously), I am a huge fan of flexible working.

When I interviewed representatives of the Agile Future Forum, set up to help companies large and small to establish practices to help deliver a sustainable economy for Britain (read more about it here), it convinced me more than ever that the future workforce will be flexible, agile and the 9-5 just will simply cease to exist.

For many of us who embrace and enjoy flexible working, it is because we have made the decision to be freelance. Working for yourself gives us the freedom to be flexible although when you’re working through the night and at weekends to meet a client’s hugely important deadline, my family may well raise their collective eyebrows at the words ‘freedom’ and ‘flexible’.
However, the flexible working trend is most definitely growing among regular employees. You get the dual benefits of a salary and flexibility. It’s not necessarily that we are living in a 24/7 corporate world where the need to connect with people across the globe in different time zones is crucial, it’s happening at a local level and individuals are making employment decisions which better suit the way they want to live.

Take my friend Donna, she gave up her regular, long-term job at a local pharmacy and opted to take a series of PAYE jobs including working as a receptionist at a gym and care home and behind the bar at our local football club Wycombe Wanderers FC. She tends to work mid-week and through the weekend so she can spend more time with her weekend shift worker husband at the beginning of the week.

For others, the dual benefits of flexible and remote working have a direct impact on their work-life balance. Another friend of mine decided to ship her family back to her native Scotland after spiralling house prices in the South East made them re-evaluate their lifestyle. She continues to work part-time PAYE remotely for a local company down south looking after their social media and blog. My partner’s company is undergoing a massive upheaval at the moment, but he remains positive, even excited, about the future as there is the prospect of more flexible working arrangements which means he can both remain salaried and pursue other business interests which he has been cultivating for a while.

This week the Institute of Directors explored the concept of remote working and are offering its members advice on how to run their businesses along such lines without affecting business performance.

I would argue those of us who have experienced remote and flexible working whilst remaining on the company books, are more productive. These workers not only appreciate the trust bestowed upon them but also the flexibility such working practices deliver so they would never do anything to jeopardise losing something still widely regarded as a privilege rather than a regular, even profitable, working arrangement.

Time TwisterThere’s a host of other reasons why such working practices are good for business from the lack of an exhausting commute which means more energy for working and a focused approach because there are fewer distractions than in the office. The IOD’s article provides a number of tips on how employers can benefit from utilising remote working.

Unfortunately, there remains a perception, among both bosses and colleagues, that remote workers are simply shirkers. Hmmm, just like the 9-5, that’s so last century!

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