Castille’s Yuliya Calleja on the Truth about Flexible Working
11 Jan 2023 3 mins read By Andrea Amato

Is workplace flexibility present within all companies?


In speaking with different clients from organisations of diverse sizes, some are still hesitant to change towards flexible working arrangements. Not just in terms of hybrid or remote jobs, but flexible hours generally.

Flexible work is important for employees today. For example, people need to take their children to school and come to work afterward. They wouldn’t mind their work hours, but they would need some adjustment to accommodate. 

Some employers are still hesitant to provide flexible work, even for the above example. Recently, I’ve noticed two main types of clients, those from small organisations—such as a family run business—and larger organisations with different levels of management.


Flexible limitations of small and large businesses


Employers from smaller businesses are likely to micromanage people, as everyone is in communication with one another. They worry that if they provide employees with flexible or remote careers, the employee might not be trustworthy or productive. This is despite research that shows people are more productive at home because they can reduce the amount of time taken to go to the office and the stress that comes with commuting, for example.

Additionally, with remote work, employees can work in their own environment that suits them and get their work done accordingly.

On the other hand, employers from larger organisations are hesitant to change their processes to support flexibility, not because they don’t want to change, but because it takes a lot of time to amend operations due to the number of managers that would need to approve it. There are hierarchies that this change needs to be communicated at every level and get this approved.

The reasoning is, with larger employers, to change a process they need to implement some kind of policy. They must discuss how this process will work, which employees are affected and those that aren’t…as maybe not everyone can have work from home jobs due to the nature of their work. Ultimately, this kind of change takes time.

I’ve spoken with people in human resources (HR) from large companies, and they do say that they’d like to change to include flexible work, as they understand that is what employees are looking for. Even if these jobs can be done from home, however, until that decision comes from top management and has been approved it just cannot be done. There isn’t much they can do. 

Despite flexible work being around for the past few years, since Covid-19, we think everyone has adapted to this new way of working. However, in reality, many companies are still struggling to make flexible work feasible. In this way, they’re reducing their pool of talent. 

You can have great candidates who are a perfect fit for the business, but they require some flexibility, and the company cannot offer it. It’s a real limitation. This is something I’ve been seeing lately in the workplace.


The needs of smaller businesses


Whilst not all small businesses provide flexible work, they are open to receiving candidates who’d like remote career options. However, they wouldn’t set remote work as a rule for candidates to know about. As maybe, this can mean employees coming into work slightly later or occasionally work from home—most of the time, I met with smaller businesses that would prefer their employees working in the office.

Of course, the above isn’t true for all small companies! Some are happy to change processes relatively quickly and are flexible. I’ve noticed the above is usually true when it’s a family run business, where sometimes, these can be a little conservative in the way they work. In this way, they prefer employees come into the office, and that’s just the way it has always been.


Opening the doors for flexible working


Every company has their factors and arrangements to consider. In my recent experience, those organisations that are focused on bringing employees back to the office aren’t so keen to change and support remote jobs.

I do think that at some point this will change. That every organisation needs to adapt in some way to support flexibility and remote work. Otherwise, these companies will stay behind and will lose hiring opportunities for qualified people. Flexible options do help in terms of efficiency.

For example, let’s use a metaphor in comparing the popular Nokia phones with today’s iPhones. Do you remember the Nokia phone everyone used to have? It used to be so efficient and work for everybody! Why would you change that? 

Then, iPhones grew popular, and Nokia didn’t change their style, so what happened to Nokia? Nowadays, I’m sure there are people who don’t even know what Nokia phone I’m referring to.

What I’m trying to say is, maybe these organisations will be encouraged or forced to change in time. This is important to stay relevant to today’s market. The reality is, no fantastic employee in today’s market will want to work for employers who don’t provide flexible work when this is a benefit they want—it’s an unfortunate circumstance, but we’re in this period of change.

Hopefully, we’ll all grow to learn that flexibility is key to the workforce today, and we’ll continue to move with where the market takes us.

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