What does a modern workplace look like?

All UK employees who have worked in an organisation for more than 26 weeks are entitled to make a request for flexible working arrangements, according to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas). Still, many wouldn’t ask or even know that this is something open to them. 

remote working

Graduating in the mid 90’s, my first taste of recruitment was not a place for the flexible work chat, indeed I doubt that any of us actually even knew what it meant. A typical day in the office finished around 8pm, followed by some well-deserved drinks!  (to be repeated at least 4 times a week). Working part time was something you only considered if you were returning after a maternity leave (and, goodness me, not in that business). The stories I overheard… newly returning mums being told their bonuses would be pro rata and, yes of course, they still had to work until 8pm (regardless of childcare having a hard 6pm close).

With changing attitudes and cultures more of us are looking for an agile approach to our career. It’s not just about accommodating parents, but about offering people the prospect of having a successful and productive career without having to sacrifice their interests and passions. Surely, that would produce a happier and in turn more productive workforce?  

Thankfully, 20 years on we have in the main come a long way, although I still hear stories that remind me more of 1988 and not 2018.  It’s fair to say times have most certainly changed and flexible working is at an all-time demand with a great many of us citing it as imperative to a happy, productive and harmonious working existence. A flexible arrangement ultimately allows the employee to have some steer on where, when and how they work. This can take a different form for each individual - any combination of working from home, job share or reduced working hours. Some companies go as far as to offer unlimited holiday, thereby demonstrating trust in their employees’ integrity and an investment in their wellbeing:

“Unlimited annual leave, golden hello packages and annual travel allowances are just some of the perks introduced in recent years. One big insurance company recently announced six months’ fully paid maternity leave. It’s all about accommodating staff.”

On the other side of the spectrum, Emine Saner reports on a variety of digital surveillance methods implemented by some employers to monitor their staff’s whereabouts, computer activities and even emotions. I shudder to think that this may become a commonplace initiative in the future.

A company that looks to attract and retain the best talent must be able to understand and respond to their employees’ needs and provide a flexible and comfortable working environment. People are no longer motivated by salary and package alone. I believe there must also be a genuine shift towards outputs as a measure of productivity, and not just time spent at your desk. Let’s face it - anyone can sit in an office for appearance’s sake, but it’s the work they produce that counts, and for that there must be “trust”.  

One of the key attractions for me joining Interim Partners was the genuine agile working pattern they offer, combined with a high degree of mutual trust, autonomy and outcome based working.  

Of course, to be successful, a flexible working policy needs to fit into your organisation’s strategic plan and become an integral part of your company culture and values. It will require the cooperation and vision of all those involved, through an open and honest dialogue.

“The average cost of replacing one employee is £30,614, according to a report by Oxford Economics and Unum”. 

Do you need any more proof that keeping staff happy is good for business?


Karen Wightman is a Senior Consultant of Manufacturing & Engineering at Interim Partners.

At Interim Partners, we operate an outcomes-based methodology for our interim assignments. Our associates are engaged through our ROI methodology, via statement of work or time and materials frameworks. By defining the desired outcome and mapping out the best way to achieve success, we deliver the results our clients want. Get in touch with Karen if you'd like to find out more.

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