I don’t usually buy a newspaper at the weekend. I don’t have time to wade through them and there’s only really one story at the moment – the Economy. However, the UK’s Guardian has a Work section which this weekend led with a piece “A new ‘ism” by Julia Hobsbawm:
“The Work Foundation published a study, Productivity, Performance & People, which concluded that a motivated workforce working flexibly to suit employee and employer alike would deliver more for [...] businesses than a century of old-style, rigid hours.”
Now, this is acutely interesting to me. Yuuguu doesn’t have an office. Having tried to balance work and family with jobs that didn’t even offer flexitime let alone the ability to work from home, I’ve found the change to a more flexible way of working a revelation.
But is this report simply about desperate measures needed to help your business survive an economic downturn? Is it saying employers would only provide more flexibility if they had no other choice? No. It was published five years ago. If flexibility was a great motivator then – when bonuses and salary increases were easy to offer – surely it is an even more important idea now?
The piece goes on to suggest that a culture shift is still needed and – like all great ideas – this culture shift needs a name:
“This culture needs changing. I grew up with feminism as a given. Let’s have a new “ism” beginning with “f” which is much more relevant to working women and men today -”flexibilism“. By that I mean an attitude towards work which has trust at its centre – a trust that people will deliver if they are encouraged to work out what suits both their needs and their employers’ needs alike.”
In the days of the Industrial Revolution, mills and manufacturing, flexibilism was a pipe dream that made no sense. You worked where your machine was. In today’s service driven, internet enabled economies, your machine now works where you are. It’s just taking a little while for this fact to sink in.