Rajiv Tewari, Founder, Journos.in& Consulting Editor, MyKindOfJob.com
17th June 2016
Flexi Work Policies Are Great Enablers
Based on a conversation with Shampi Venkatesh, Founder, P-Quotient which offers strategic business solutions on performance management & people practices.Shampi is well-known and respected for practicing a unique blend of Business and HRM backed by her vast experience in business operations and HR.As the Global Chief People Officer of NIIT, she was credited with leading her company to Rank 4 in the Great Place to Work, 2011 and Rank 2 in Fairness on Performance Management, 2013.
Flexi job policies are great enablers for the employees. Given the commuting time to work and the need of today’s generation for greater work life balance, this is a welcome trend. Moreover, certain roles which can be done equally effectively from home take away the need for office infrastructure and realty space which is expensive. Therefore this also serves as a cost reduction mechanism for the employers.“When I refer to Flexi timings, I refer to both flexi start-end timings for reporting at work and also work from home options, either on an ongoing basis or on a case-to-case basis” said Shampi.
Today’s employers are quite sensitive to the challenges their employees have to face due to daily commute and the lack of time for work life balance. “However, over a period of time, in some cases, the sensitivity gets diluted. Even for most employees, it gradually becomes a part and parcel of the job and a price many are willing to pay!Many employees utilise their commute time very productively either in conversations or catching up on emails. Allowing flexi timing option will be very useful but then it needs to be done very judiciously” said Shampi.
Flexi policies are easy to implement in non-customer facing roles or where most of the work is on an individual contribution mode, requiring bare minimum collaboration. Roles related to design, conceptualization, coding, quality checks, offline audits, web based training, software development, content development, research, analytics, project-based work, etc. are the most possible work areas for flexi work policies. Roles that are global in nature andneed virtual mode of working, since most of the work is done through telecom and IT interfaces, are also great candidates for Flexi timings
According to Shampi, “Some clients have a fixed number of days that one can work from home (WFH) in a year but these WFH days can be used only during emergency situations on the home front. Some clients have matured and sophisticated ways of tracking whether you are logged in to the office intranet or not andare actuallyable to track the hours that you have put in during flexi timings. If there are smart card systems in place then it is extremely easy to track time in and time out of reporting at work if the work needs to be done from office. “
Maturity, ethics and values of the employees will play a big role in case a company goes in for flexi work policies. If the company doesn’t have means and ways of tracking flexi timing implementation; then it can be prone to misuse. Trust plays an important part here. Where companies don’t have written down policies for flexi time, the relationship between the reporting manager and the employee plays a big role even if there is no formalflexi work policy.
The impact on productivity should be positive provided the flexi work policies have robust processes with a culture of trust. People who take work seriously tend to get more done when they are working from home or when they use flexi timings that allow them to take care of urgent and critical work. Since the exigencies are taken care of, they can concentrate better. In cases of creative and cerebral work, people can use their most productive ‘time’ of the day. Some are ‘morning’ people, and some are ‘evening’ people; so flexi time would work to a great advantage for both types. If they are allowed to work during their most productive time of the day, more gets done and delivered. Another important point to note is that the lines between working hours, non-working hours and non-workdays gets blurred, since it is all about balancing personal life and demands of the work place in such a way that neither suffers and there is equal satisfaction to both at most times.
A fresher from college, ideally,should not be given a WFH option since the change over from a campus environment to a corporate environment would need a very good understanding of the work place dynamics. The foundation of engagement is relationship building and that gets driven primarily by face-to-face interactions. “Flexi mode of working can be given to employees who are a proven culture fit and have the maturity to maximize it from an efficiency and effectiveness perspective. Freshers from campuses should ideally spend 12-18 months on a full time basis at the work place and then, if found suitable, they can be given flexi work options” added Shampi.
Flexi timings can be given at all levels since this would involve coming to work but at a specific time of choice. Both these options demand discipline from the people involved. For example, Flexi time may not mean that an employee can come in whenever he wants; especially if he is an integral part of the team. There needs to be some kind of predictability in the reporting time at work and that is important for the manager to communicate and manage.
“If managed well, flexi time is a great tool for better engagement and retention. For the WFH option, it is critical to design activities and processes that will make it necessary for the employee to come to office for a while at regular intervals or meet his colleagues and peers so that he doesn’t feel isolated and out of sync with the company culture and values. Managing this part requires smart designing of people practices and an empathetic execution” according to Shampi.
The HR teams have to play the role of a business partner in determining which roles in the company will perform better with WFH and flexi timings and then work with the leadership teams to design, communicate and execute these plans. For the success of Flexi Work Policies, the HR team also needs to put in checks and balances for preventing misuse and keeping track of how well the implementation matches up to the original design and business objective.
Founder of Fortune Architect
Managing Director- Asia Pacific & EMEA Markets with Saviour US INC
Respected HR Leader
CHRO, LANCO INFRATECH LIMITED
Executive Director-HR & Admin, Experion Developers
Managing Director, UK Fostering, Founder, UKINDO International & CharityWorld.com
Promoter & Director, Rockland Hospitals Network, Delhi
Vice President & HR Head- India/SA at IBM HR Consultant
Founder and a principal consultant with People Talent International
Mr Chauhan has held leadership roles in HR at leading multinational companies
COO & Co-founder of Round Ark Limited, Gurgaon
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