PRESSURE FROM ALL SIDES
Even with so few organizations offering flexible work arrange-ments,
change from several directions supports its adoption,
including the very nature of our work.
“We’re moving more and more into a knowledge economy and
needing less equipment to do our work – often just laptops and
phones,” said Brie Weiler Reynolds, senior career specialist at
Millennials – who grew up with mobile technology – now make
up the largest segment of workforce, and the oldest among them
are beginning to move into leadership roles.
“The expectation with employees of this generation is that flex-ible
work is a standard business procedure rather than just an
occasional perk,” said Weiler Reynolds.
In some ways, employers have been laying the groundwork for
remote and flexible work for years – although not necessarily with
that end in mind.
“For the past 10 or 15 years, employers have expected employ-ees
to be available 24/7, to check emails at night and to work
remotely even if that’s not what they’ve been calling it,” said Weiler
Reynolds. “That kind of casual remote and flexible work that em-ployers
have been pushing has now started to turn and employees
are saying, ‘I would like to work this way, but have more control
over when I do it, rather than being on call all day, every day.’”
Also in the pro column for remote and flexible work options:
They can save businesses a great deal of money.
“We’re seeing more and more organizations realizing that while
their real estate footprint is a fixed cost, it’s one they can begin
to manage if they allow this trend to take hold,” said Stephen
Harrington, national lead, Talent Strategy at Deloitte in Canada.
“That’s a really important driver.”
Research by Global Workplace Analytics’ finds that if workers
with compatible jobs and a desire to work from home did so just
half the time, U.S. businesses would save more than $700 billion
annually. Broken down, this totals an annual savings of $11,000
per employee for each business, and between $2,000 and $7,000
for each telecommuter.
MODERN PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT
Organizations, though, often resist the idea. For one thing, busi-ness
leaders may struggle to understand how they can manage a
team that’s working in multiple locations, at different times dur-ing
It may be a common concern, but as Weiler Reynolds points
out, work has been evolving to be less about where someone goes
every day and for how long, and more about what they’re dong ev-ery
day and what they’ve accomplished.
“This is something HR will have a hand in,” said Weiler
Reynolds. “Managerial practices have to move out of that 20th
century mindset that everyone is in the office and you can physi-cally
see your employees working. Essentially, management has to
rely a lot less on face time and seeing someone working, and more
on results, and managers also have to understand how employees
get to a result, whether that’s the best series of actions to get to that
result, and whether that process can be more effective.”
IN THE AGE OF
More remote and flexible workers can mean
a change in responsibilities for certain
“Some positions like office manager may seem
extinct, at first glance, but it’s really a role that’s
evolving as needs do,” said Dr. Melanie Peacock,
associate professor at Mount Royal University.
“The office manager role has gone from being
administrative to being strategic. If remote and
flexible workers are spokes in a wheel, then an
office manager is the hub of that wheel, keeping
everyone connected and in sync.”
Office managers become the conduit for those with
flexible hours or working in remote locations, and
as key contact, wield great influence.
“In many ways, that person is HR,” said Peacock.
“Of course, HR professionals have a deep expertise
and they lead in this area, but the people leading,
managing and coordinating the business are also
HR, so the office manager becomes a much more
strategic position with stronger ties to HR.” superelaks / Shutterstock.com
18 ❚ NOVEMBER 2017 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL