Monday, February 12, 2007

Come on, Give Workers a Break!

There's been more talk locally about extending flexible working for all workers (instead of just those with kids). I saw a news report on BBC's breakfast show before I left for work (got a new job peeps! a permanent good paying one!). A guy from the small business association was complaining about the plans saying that flexible work hours will not be beneficial to small business owners. There was also a lady who was for it and she also owned a small business. Her view was that (a) the work force was changing, either businesses adapted or they lose and (b) flexible hours can benefit businesses, even small businesses.

I know the difficulties of running a small business. I've worked in many and my Dad has owned many. But it's time for even small business owners to start thinking differently. As was emphasised on the news report this morning, flexible hours can be requested, they don't have to be given if they don't fit into the business. But too often (as far as I have seen) bosses don't want to give employees the opportunity to work flexibly because it seems as though they are giving the employee some level of control of how they come and go - and for many old fashioned business people, this is not to be.

Many sorry business owners have a distinctly feudal attitude to their work force. And they are irrational - not bothering to even think how flexible hours will affect the business.

For most of my working life, my job has consisted of sitting in an office in front of a computer screen - rarely talking on the phone to others. Just dealing with my computer and shuffling papers around - doing non-essential (i.e. I'm not a policeman or doctor) jobs. Most of my friends have similar jobs. There is no reason why if it suits me to come in at 10 and leave at 6 why I or many of my friends cannot do so. It certainly won't hurt the businesses we work for. I have requested this work pattern and been granted it by one of my employers. But most won't entertain it at all.

One job I had I didn't deal with anyone from outside of the business, I was a technical writer and just wrote documents all day. This place had hours from 8:30 until 5:30 and they frowned on you even leaving the building for lunch. Given the nature of my job (they even gave me a laptop and a mobile, why I don't know) I requested to be able to work from home (quite a few others did). I was just turned down out of hand. Ridiculous.

The workplace has changed. And if you think about it you aren't productive in a predictable fashion for many jobs - there are times when things are busy and times when they aren't. Within reason I don't see why people cannot be allowed to work from home, even sometimes, and have flexible hours as long as they are in for core hours if they need to be.

People increasingly want to have a much better work life balance and if employers won't accede to this, then there'll just be more and more people doing their own thing. Hopefully when they then hire people they will be more flexible!

1 comment:

Mad Bull said...

I am all for the flexitime too!