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    Winter-2016  


Modern Life Offers a Cornucopia of Flexible Options…Why Not The Workplace?

Evolution—even when it comes to workplace practices—is a normal and natural progression.

Allison O’Kelly, CEO of Mom Corps believes companies in today’s world must adapt to align to the needs, preferences or extenuating circumstances of the employee.

By doing this, ultimately both will benefit.

She argues the age of “one size fits all” management is now but a chapter in the history books. 

Clearly, the workplace is undergoing significant changes.

The progression of market demand and available technology has provided consumers with choices that fit a customized lifestyle.

“Why not, for the employee?” she asks.

Today’s world is adapting to the idea of accommodating work parameters with employee lifestyle, needs.

However, O’Kelly believes the modern workplace lags a bit in customization spectrum.

Understandably, a company is not an individual; professionals work collectively for a greater good. But adapting flexibility and aligning life and work for the betterment of all involved transcends simply addressing personal preference.

According to Andrew Ross, a professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University “the definition of a job is slowly reverting to its original etymological derivation which was a lump of work that exists only for the duration of its fulfillment. The historical norm has been self-employment, intermittent work and isolation from any type of social insurance of the sort that we were familiar with in the post war period

In this environment, employers ultimately benefit when they start seeing the employer/employee relationship as symbiotic. One avenue to creating a balance between work and life needs is through a job share program.

O’Kelly says there is significant social change when implementing such a program.

“It will require an investment of time and resources to eventually see a measurable return, but small and steady efforts will create a new social norm of workplace flexibility that will make a measurable impact on society and the company,” she adds. 

Employers may be apprehensive about the idea of implementing and managing flexible schedules, teleworking or alternative work methodologies—but there are significant benefits. 

”In this approach, both employee and employers are benefiting from improved productivity and better rewards,” she said.

O’Kelly offers a comparison of how creating a job share position can benefit both employer and employee.

“In the past, business innovators embraced the concept of fractional ownership, where a group of individual investors share the purchase price and usage of a luxury asset. This concept expanded the market opportunity and increased sales for these particular items.” 

According to O’Kelly, “workplace innovators can create the job share solution as a way to attract a new audience. Many skilled professionals are unable or unwilling to commit to a 40-hour week due to life changes and personal preferences. This limits the market of available talent for positions requiring specific skill sets and experience. Dividing “ownership” of the job creates flexible and meaningful work for a growing talent segment and gives companies access to workers who might otherwise be unavailable to them.”

While it’s apparent that employees appreciate access to flexible work options, it would be one-sided to not consider the positive impact of flexibility on the employer. 

Here are O’Kelly’s suggestions for sourcing information and developing strategies to implement:

  • An evolved workplace can take on almost endless forms. Study those who have implemented successful programs and learn from what worked best. Organizations like the Family and Work Institute (www.whenworkworks.org) share a variety of rigorous research and employer best practices on workplace effectiveness and flexibility.
  • Don’t make assumptions about which flexible options will make a difference for employees. Whether through a formal company-wide survey or asking each employee individually during their performance review, uncover the pain points across the organization on a macro level, and by department or location on a more micro level. This data will help pinpoint the programs that are both achievable and impactful.

O’Kelly’s final thought: “Modern life has produced flexible options that make us more efficient and allow us to spend time in ways that best fit our lives at the moment. When aspects of our professional lives mirror this, we are better at work, too.”   

Allison O'Kelly is founder/CEO of Mom Corps, a national professional staffing firm with a focus on flexible work.. Follow Allison at @MomCorps and @AllisonOKelly

 


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