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Working remotely
Stephanie Patterson | 25 June 2019

Flexible Working – do you have the right balance?

More and more of the companies we work with are responding to our busy modern lives by providing flexible working for their employees.

It’s an approach we embrace whole-heartedly at Kin because we focus on outputs rather than inputs and believe the modern world of work will continue to move in this direction.

At the same time though, we are seeing work related stress on the rise and an increase in sick days relating to mental health issues and stress related illnesses.  So do we have the right balance? It is easy to believe that providing flexible hours, mobile devices and connection to online platforms at home will make it easier and less stressful for employees to juggle the demands of their lives. But does it?  In our experience, it depends on how it is managed, and the guidelines that are in place.

A couple of decades ago, there was an adage about the importance of ‘not taking your work home’. These days many of us are now taking it everywhere; and in some cases, being encouraged to.  We can potentially be dealing with work issues and email while out with friends, watching children play sport, at concerts and family dinners; all occasions when it is more important and more appropriate for our attention to be on the people in front of us.

So, what is the answer to finding the right balance?  We believe the secret is to be clear that working from home is about convenience, efficiency and balance, rather than putting employees under additional stress. This means having guidelines in place, and times when accessing emails is either not possible, or certainly not expected. And as people leaders, set the tone by steering clear of emailing your team on weekends and late into the evening through the week.

In recent years, France introduced legislation to do just that. From early 2017 businesses with over 50 employees were required to have set times where the company could not email staff – there-by enforcing down time and removing the feelings of guilt or obligation that they ‘should’ be working.  While we don’t have such extreme measures here in New Zealand, it could be argued there is merit behind Frances intention.

Flexible working arrangements can be fantastic when they are managed well, and they encourage that elusive work / life balance that we all benefit from. We are all more productive, engaged and energised when we have had time to switch off and rest. Surely happy, rested, productive staff is what we aim for in a successful business.

How do you monitor your employees work at home? Do you have an after-hours policy? If you already have one in place, talk to your employees about what is and isn’t working for them – if it’s not ticking the boxes, revise it and improve it. If you don’t have one, it may be time to get one in place. Talk to our sister company Humankind about how you could develop a set of flexible working guidelines that can support, enable, and empower your people.