3rd May 2016
How to Convince Your Boss for Flexi Timing?
Several studies have indicated that employees are increasingly preferring flexi work policies for a better work life balance. Technology has made it possible for most workers to work from remote locations but many bosses feel that that a flexi work policy would isolate people from others which will affect their productivity levels. Findings at several companies, where flexi work policies have been implemented successfully, reveal exactly the opposite. In fact, resistance to flexi work policies is primarily due to old habits. It is more of a mind-set issue. So the key question is how does one convince the boss to consider flexi work policies as a better option in cases where there is a good match between flexi time working and the work profile?
Case 1: What if the boss prefers face to face meetings
A lot of bosses simply want their team members to be around and available for face to face meetings. Such bosses would hate the idea of people not coming to office, so a direct approach can backfire with no second chance. In case of such bosses, the best approach would be to suggest a mix of working from home and office with a clear understanding that you would be ready to come over any day or time when needed ata short notice. Commit to output targets and highlight the advantages of having extra time in case of urgent requirements by the boss. Share the benefits of saving on commuting time and office infrastructure costs as additional advantages. Share the experience of other organizations such as IBM & Microsoft. Make sure that your proposal is not sent on email in this case as this type of boss will prefer a face to face communication. Your best chance will be when you can catch your boss in a good mood with free time. In case of resistance, suggest that this may be tried once or twice a week and continued only if it shows a better output. Reassure the boss that you will be available on email and phone during the office hours while working from home so that there is no communication gap.
Case 2: What If the boss believes that flexi time will be misused
In one of my recent interactions with the CEO of a hospitals chain, I was bluntly told that he does not trust his employees to be fully devoted to work in the office where they find all the time to gossip and waste time during lunch and tea breaks. He said that there is no way he is going to trust the same employees to be diligently working from home if a flexi work policy was introduced. I changed the topic for a while and asked him if all his doctors come on a 9 to 5 basis. He said “the part time doctors are allowed to come in time slots that work best for them." Interestingly, the number of flexi time doctors was much more that the full time doctors in this hospitals chain. He suddenly realized his mistake and admitted that in certain areas flexi timing will be good; however it can not be implemented as a general policy. Soon; he began to share a bigger list of areas like marketing, enquiry handling and the medical travellers who usually come late in the night. He admitted that in many cases a result oriented flexi time would actually make more sense. By the time our meeting was over, he had already decided to check out the areas where flexi work policy would be feasible. Once the doubt on output goes away, the task of convincing will be easier. In such cases, suggestions with examples on email may be a better idea as you certainly do not want a spontaneous reaction which may have a very high chance of rejection. Thinking time should be available to the boss, so sending your email towards the week end may be a good idea. This may give your boss a couple of days to think about it.
Case 3: Dealing with a micro manager boss
I have had a micro manager boss who would assign a task and would then go around checking the status of workevery couple of hours.He would get worried if one of our team members went to even pick up a cup of coffee and he happened to drop in. Such bosses believe that their job will be done faster if they keep checking frequently so they keep the pressure on.For such bosses, everything is urgent. The results however; can be quite the opposite as more mistakes happen when the employees are anxious.
In this organization, I was requested by a colleague of mine to be allowed to operate from home as his parents were quite ill. This colleague was co- coordinating with our advertising agency and the public relations agency. His job did not require a full time presence in the office. Instead of approaching the boss directly, I sent a proposal on email explaining how the advertising agencies and the journalists work late into the evenings and why therefore a flexi time approach will be to our advantage. I shared how output can be easily measured on the basis of the task completion. I also highlighted the fact that work which would otherwise need to wait for next day can be a done a day earlier in the evening itself with reports on our table the next morning. Due to his micro management philosophy, the decisions used to get dragged late into the evening; by which time most of the support staff, specially the females, used to leave for home. He agreed immediately; and asked me about other areas where such a policy could be implemented. He soon began to be quite creative with allowing flexi slots and even work from home but with full assurance of immediate response on phone and email as and when he wanted the feedback. In fact, he soon found that technology enabled him to monitor his employees in a far more efficient ways than his old system of surprise visits to every cabin. The trick, therefore, is in showing such a boss theadvantages without trying to change his style.
Case 4. Convincing a boss who thinks the employees have a casual approach to work
I have already shared an example of how some bosses simply do not trust their team members. Such bosses are actually the easiest to convince, as all that they want is proof of output. They need to be made aware of how the best practice companies have adapted the flexi work policies and how they have benefited by way of increased productivity. This type of boss would need convincing on how technology will help him in monitoring the output of each employee. Several studies have already proved that flexi timing usually works best with the competent employees. The incompetent people are exposed in such a system as working from remote locations does not allow them to hide behind large teams. Technology based processes will actually help such a boss in weeding out the workers with a casual approach to work.
Open meetings or otherwise an email should be used to communicate in this case. Be brief and focus on the key aspect of monitoring and increased output experiences of some well-known companies. Give suggestion on how it can help his organization. Do full home work by studying the finer points of the flexi work policies so that once the boss is interested, you are in a good position to answer his questions.
Remember all bosses irrespective of their leadership styles, are also accountable for performance so if they see an advantage in terms of clear increase in business results, they are bound to accept the suggestions for flexi work policies. In the same context, it is also important to note that flexi work policies work well only when a thorough audit of individuals as well as roles is done to check out its feasibility before implementation.
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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