What Is the Flexible Working?

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This mostly relates to an organization’s arrangements of working procedure that helps the company to perform its functions swiftly. The flexible working operations include; the time to work, the working pattern and the location of work. Whenever employees are subjected to a working situation in which they are able to balance between their work and family or social lives, then they are able to concentrate highly on their work. A flexible employment pattern allows the employees to click a balance between their job and their family lives. This enables the worker not to be stressed by the work demands and be able to focus and concentrate on their job. Introducing a flexible working pattern in an organization improves the productivity of that organization. This is because it helps in lowering the number of sick leaves that are offered by the organizations to their employees who are actually sick and those who just want some time away from work to manage their other part of life. The sick leaves will be avoided as there will be improved health conditions of the workers because the stress levels among the workers reduces.

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In organizations where the staff do not have flexible working conditions, and as a result are unable to mange their work and social/family lives, the staff tend to lack motivation in their work, therefore a high turn over of staff results because of workers resigning from their jobs. The staffs in such working conditions are under stress hence they are ever absent on sick leaves and even when present at work, they rarely concentrate on their work.

Examples of flexible working operations are such as:

  • Part-time- this is a situation where the employees are employed on contract basis and work for lesser time or hours as compared to those that are employed on a full time basis.
  • Mobile working- this situation arises when an employee works in a different working place which is not to the standard of their normal working place. The employee does part of their work in that place or can even work for a week of their normal working time.
  • Home working– in this case the individual working employee says at home but is also working. Home working is mainly associated with online working with the use of personal computers.
  • Career breaks- this is a situation whereby the employee breaks out of the normal working environment and is given a leave. The leave can either be paid or unpaid for a period of around 3 to 5 years or more. The employee goes for a break out of the working environment and returns later after a certain period of time.
  • Annual hours- this is where there is a definition on the amount of hours that an employee should work in a year. In this case the employee can be able to carry out any other personal activities with regard to their social or family life and as well be able to do their work efficiently. This is because the annual working hour’s pattern of flexibility allows the individual to manage their time as long as they meet the number of hours that have been designed for them in the year.
  • Flexi time- this pattern allows the employees of the organization to make a choice given set limits on when they want to begin or end their work4.
  • Job-sharing- this is a situation where two or more workers in an organization, share their job responsibilities. In this case one can work for another if the other individual is absent. Hence the workers share out the work and easing one another some time off their duties.

These issues are important because, they will help in addressing the problem of why employees in organizations prefer those organizations that have flexible working operations. In our research, we shall therefore look at the factors that lead to the establishment of flexible working operations in organizations.

The research carried out was required by the managers and directors of organizations. They wanted this information for them to know the number of organizations that are using flexible working operations in their organizations. This information was to help them gauge from the respective organizations, on what patterns they are using and which flexible working arrangements are mostly used5. The managers not only required the conclusion of the research but also the individual data collection from respective organizations. They wanted to know from the data collected the say of the employees in the organizations on how much they valued the flexible working arrangements and to what extent they would want such arrangements implemented in their organizations6. This information would therefore help the managers and directors in knowing whether to implement the flexible working arrangements in their organizations or not. This means that after carrying out this research, a report shall be produced and forwarded to the senior management, which they shall use to examine and use the results to establish if it is necessary to adjust the working operations of their organizations or not.

Approach to the problem or task

The research was carried out both internally and externally. This was done through looking at the internal documentation of workers who work under the flexible working operations and those who work on full time basis in the organization.

Existing documentation

Early analysis showed this to be out of date so I emailed the human resources manger requesting for the current document of workers which showed the number working on full time and the number working under part time. The documents showed that the numbers of employees who work on flexible working operations are rising tremendously overtime whereas the numbers of those under the full time basis is continuing to increase over time. I felt email would give me a speedy response given that the HR had the current document and I could not be allowed to see the HR in person.

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People’s Feelings

I chose to talk to the workers in the organization, on what they felt about both the flexible working operations and the full time working. Through these interviews the employees in the organization were asked on how they feel about the flexible working operations and most of them recommended that it is the best option for any working individual today. This was said with a lot of joy whereas those who are permanently employed expressed dissatisfaction on their faces regarding their working operation.

An alternative method was approaching the supervisors of this workers but I did not chose it because I feared that they would know what I ma trying to investigate and may even give me the wrong information for the fear of been “loyal” to the organization.

Primary/Secondary Data Sources

Interviews were carried with 6 employees of the organization. Questionnaires were also distributed and information collected. I used both the documents of the organization and the first hand information from employees working in the organization.

Flexible working practices are good in enhancing production for a company, but very few and especially the small businesses that do use them. Some organizations implement the flexible working operations as part of their organization’s working culture whereas others, situations make them go for it. The situations that may make organizations opt for flexible working operations are such as:

  • When the staffs that are working in the organization, have difficulties in managing their work and social/family lives, and as a result request for the implementation of flexible working patterns.
  • When issues have arisen at the work place and the management decides to review the working patterns after consideration that such issues in the working environment can only be sorted out through changing the working patterns in the organization.
  • When an organization is advertising for vacancies in the organization, the posts that offer a chance on flexible working conditions will receive many applicants.
  • Flexible working patterns can also be offered when the policies of a place requires it to happen. An example is when a woman returns to work after maternity leave and the law require that in such a condition, the employee should be granted flexibility in the working environment.

Information Collected

I interviewed 6 people from the organization. The questionnaires were also distributed to other 20 workers.

The interviews showed:

  • 80% said they preferred part-time working.
  • I analyzed the information by noting from the information given in the questionnaires, that most of the workers preferred flexible working operations as portrayed as below:
  • Part-time working (80%)
  • Job-share (57%)
  • Flexi time (48%)
  • Term-time working (20%)
  • Working from home (10%)

From the research we carried out in various organizations on the flexible working patterns, it was noted that, most organizations are able to take the following as part of the flexible pattern program for their employees:

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  • Part-time working (79%)
  • Job-share (57%)
  • Flexi time (48%)
  • Term-time working (20%)
  • Working from home (10%)

Common themes were the part-time working and the job share. what surprised me was that very many organizations are offering their workers a chance to work on a flexible pattern, this was confirmed through the use of a recent survey that was conducted by Workplace Employee Relations Survey (WERS), which stated that, organizations that do offer employees a chance to work flexibly has increased in number. According to WERS managers, organizations have began developing an understanding that it is very important for employees to balance their work and their family/social relations.

The part-time basis of working enables workers not to stick to the work place on a full time basis. In this case the worker is able to carry out their other responsibilities out of work. The job-share working enables employees to be able to help their fellow workers in case one wants to be off, such that the other can stay in for work for him/her.

Reasons/Factors Contributing to Flexible Working

  • Given the tightness of the labor market, most potential employees are opting to go for jobs that offer flexibility in working
  • Technology which has so much advanced is giving employees a chance to work even at home using their personal computers, hence the need for organizations to adopt flexibility
  • With most organizations wanting to deliver their services on a 24/7 method, then flexibility becomes a necessary tool.
  • Some organizations offer the part-time working, as a way of increasing productivity and are able to reduce laziness of workers in the work place.
  • With the fact the labor market has changed in terms of labor composure, given that we now have more women working, then it is evidenced that workers do have other duties or other people to take care of outside the working environment.

Why Organizations Should Use the Flexible Pattern System of Part Time and Job-Share

  • Retaining staff-organizations that practice job part-time and job-share have a high staff level of retaining workers, whereas those that do not practice flexibility in the work place suffered a high employee turn over.
  • To meet customer’s needs- this flexibility enhances productivity and most of companies adore this. Those organizations that do practice part-time and job-share flexibility in the working environment, have a high output and as such consider flexibility as a factor of enabling them meet the customers needs.
  • Help in recruiting of staff-flexibility adds value to a company in the labor market when recruiting individuals to fill various positions in the organizations. It was noted that those organizations that advertised for jobs under part-time or job-share flexible terms received more applicants as compared to those that did not offer flexible terms in their jobs.
  • To meet employee needs- the needs of the individual employee are very important in terms of their social part and their family life. Organizations that offer part-time and job-sharing flexible working conditions are seen by employees as considering their needs and are much more preferred as compared to those organizations that do not allow their employees to work under the flexible working pattern.
  • In order to comply with the required legislation– organizations that practice part-time and job-share flexible working patterns are considered to comply with the legislations. The law requires that flexible working operations should be offered to special cases such as; a mother who has just returned to the work place from maternity leave. Therefore organizations should offer the flexible working condition in order to go by or to comply with the legal requirements of the country with regard to such situations.

Other Benefits of Flexible Working Operations Include: Workers who work in an.organization under the flexible pattern of part time job tend to be more attached to their job as they have all the freedom in making decisions about their jobs. They are much more satisfied with their job and in most cases will make positive comments about their work if asked to do so. Since they are satisfied with their job, they are not likely to resign or quit their job.

Challenges Of Part-Time and Job-Share Flexible Working

  • The ability of the line managers in been able to mange the flexible working operation in a good way remains questionable. The mangers who are only used to managing the full time people under employment may find it difficult in changing to managing the part-time or job-sharing kind of workers as this may come with a lot of confusion t them and to the organization at large14.
  • The flexible working operation pattern may not be supported from a higher level of management. The mangers or the directors may not be for the idea of implementing flexible working operations as they com with a lot of changes that need to be made in the organization.
  • Changing the culture of operations that currently exists in the organization may be difficult. Organizations that do not have the culture of flexible working operations may find it very difficult to adopt it. This is because adopting such may mean making a lot of changes to the organization in terms of the management and even increasing the number of employees to work on either part-time or job-sharing flexible operations.
  • The workers will less salary if they work for less hours
  • It would prove difficult for the mangers in judging the performance of individuals working under part-time or job-sharing flexible conditions.

Conclusion

As 80% said that they preferred part-time mode of working, one conclusion is that flexible working operations are very important in the performance of an organization. It is the work of the human resources manager to note how the organization can be able to benefit or gain competitive advantage from the flexible working arrangements.

There seems to be no common theme on flexible working operations but organizations can design their own depending on what the organizations can manage to control. The need for further investigation is on other flexible working operations such as home working which most organizations were not for only if it was very necessary. This was not well disclosed by the workers as those who practice it were at home.

From the research I conclude that the one that best meets our needs is part-time and job-share because from the investigations this seems to attract quite a number of employees in the organization.

Recommendations (where required)

Given the conclusions of the research, organizations should therefore work towards implemenbting flexible working operations. This is because from the research carried out 80% of the workers preferred part-time working, seconded by the job-share method of flexible working. From this the human resource manager should work hand in hand with the line managers in particular in order to implement the flexible working arrangements in the work place.

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Bibliography

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Ellis, S. & J. Stredwick, Flexible working practices: techniques and innovations, USA, CIPD publishing, 1998.

Graham, P., Guide to flexible working, USA, Workplace Law Group publication, 2008.

Health and well being, Flexible Working Practices, 2008, Web.

Jones, P. & P. Merricks, The management of foodservice operations, London, Cassell, 1994.

My prospects, Flexible working: is it right for me? 2006, Web.

Pycraft, M., Operations management, South Africa, Pearson, 2004.

Slack, N. & S. Chambers, Operations and Process Management: Principles and Practice for Strategic Impact, Prentice Hall, 2009.

Slack, N., Operations and process management: principles and practice for strategic impact, New York, Prentice Hall, 2009.

Stredwick, J., Flexible working practices: techniques and innovations, CIPD Publishing, 1998.

Stredwick, J., Flexible Working, Prentice hall, 2005.

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