Flexibility is a key contributor to finding a better work life balance but the options can seem overwhelming. How do you know which option is the right one for you ?
Just as different people like ot eat different things not all types of flexible working is suitable for all colleagues and nor are all arrangements going to work for all teams and stakeholders. Finding your flexibility can be tricky.
To help you naviagate these uncertain waters I have put together a guide to the main types of flexibility available.
Informal vs Formal Flexibility
Formal flexibility is when you request that any time or locational flexibility arrangement agreed is formally recognised in your contract. This arrangement can not be altered if your manager later changes their mind or a new manager comes in. This type of flexibility is usually accessed by women with younger children. By formally asking for flexibility you may face an increased parenthood penalty as people perceive you are less commited to your role and the company.
In the case of informal flexibility the arrangement is usually agreed between yourself and you manager. Informal flexibility can be ad hoc, for example to allow you to attend a doctors appointment, or it can be continious, such as working from home on a Monday, but either way the arrangement is at the discretion of your manager. Consequently any change of management can lead to a revokation of the flexibility arrangement to which you have no legal challenge. This type of flexibility is usually accessed by men or more senior members of staff.
When managers think of time flexibility they usually think about their part-time workers but time flexibility is available in a variety of options including part-time, compressed hours, staggered hours, and term time only to name but a few. The most common type of time flexibility accessed in the corporate world is part-time and this is usually combined with a formal flexibility request to reduce down contracted hours. The most likely arrangement to be requested is to work three or four days per week. Obviously the less hours you work the less you are paid. It may also take you longer to get promoted and may mean some members of your organisation see you as less commmitted.
The most popular type of flexibility accessed globally is locational flexibility. This is when you work from an alternative location, usually your home, for all or part of your working week. You can also work from an alternative, usually closer, office location as part of locational flexibility. Many parts of the corporate world continue to struggle with the presentism issue while the rest of the public and private sector have become very comfortable with locational flexibility. This type of flexibility is most commonly accessed via informal flexibility on an ad hoc or continious basis. Accessing this type of flexibility can sometimes mitigate the need for time flexibility as you are able to reduce your commute and thereby free up time to meet your caring responsibilities in a more sustainable manner.
Whatever type of flexibility you choose it is important that you make sure that you really understand how it will impact your role and stakeholders. Being flexible around the final arrangement decided is a significant predictor of the long term succcess of the flexible working arrangement.
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All opinions are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.