I was recently asked if come September, I’d be looking to get myself a proper job? I couldn’t help laughing and asked the questioner why they deemed freelancing and running my own small business wasn’t a proper job? They spluttered and looked awkward, muttering phrases like, ‘you know a 9 to 5 job’ and ‘one where you work in an actual office’. While they were speaking I could see it dawning on their face how crazy that actually sounded so after reassuring them I was doing fine, I swiftly changed the subject to save their blushes.
But it got me thinking, why do we still live in a society where, lets be honest, the majority of people believe ‘proper’ work constitutes being physically in a designated workplace between certain hours adhering to strict company rules. With so much discussion around flexible working nowadays, it amazes me how this bypasses people still. Since going it alone, I have met countless other business owners who have all found a way that works for them and their lifestyles but all still achieve great things workwise where no two days are the same. After all how many jobs in ‘traditional’ companies see you being the manager of all departments with the luxury to choose what projects you work on, oh and having flexible working arrangements to boot?
A couple of organisations I have worked for previously, have introduced flexible working with varying degrees of success. For one it has pretty much transformed the company who historically had a high staff turnover and was renowned for not really caring about employee loyalty. Their new approach to understanding how work can be accomplished in a non-traditional way has turned its reputation on its head along with attracting a higher calibre of staff.
The other business, interestingly, has had mixed results. The introduction has proven rather divisive, some employees are loving the new arrangements and now relish going to work, whereas others are struggling to adapt to change, not trusting that their colleagues are working when not in the office. To be fair though, this is more down to the individuals’ attitudes rather than the organisation.
It’s a no-brainer that improving working conditions results in happier, higher motivated staff but some businesses remain slow on the up-take. I believe it’s everyone’s responsibility to shout about the successes and benefits of flexible working. Perhaps we can then shame those flagging organisations into dragging themselves into the 21stcentury, embracing a better way of working for all of us.