Let’s talk about flex, baby

Work hard, play hard will be the life quote of every student this time. In study after study, and interview after interview, the trend that just keeps coming up is workplace flexibility. It’s such a big trend that it affects us all in some way. Everybody has the feeling to achieve something and you need to invest in it. 

This time we live in a life where flexibility is more important than ever.  Globalization provokes the digitalization and made it a 24-hour economy. Technology ensures that everything will be faster and faster. We have no more time to have some personal time so the flexibility will decrease. We have to work at home and feeling the needs to answer all of your e-mails these days.

At first, we work more hours per week now, there is no longer such a thing as a 40-hour workweek. Research found out that 64% of managers expect their employees to be reachable outside of the office on their personal time. As a result, that more than half of workers feel burned out. With the rise of globalization and new technology tools, workers are demanding flexibility. Research also tells us that 67% of HR professionals think that their employees have a balanced work-life, yet almost half of employees feel that they don’t have enough time to do personal activities. Employees having at least a night of 6 hours sleep, that’s way below the standard of 8. The difference between day and night will disappear.

Technology may be to blame for the amount of work performed outside of the office: 65% of employees say that their manager expects them to be reachable outside of the office, 9% by email, 23% by phone and 33% by email and phone. From the HR perspective, 64% expect their employees to be reachable outside of the office on their personal time, 18% by email, 3% by phone and 26% by both email and phone. There saying employees have a sleep of 6,5 hour instead of the norm of 8. That will say working people sleeps below the standard they need. Employees are working longer days, and about a quarter of them regularly work after the standard workday is done. Furthermore, about four out of 10 work on weekends at least once a month. Breaks are becoming rare as well – about half of employees feel like they cannot get up for a break at all, and just under half eat lunch at their desk. This megatrend makes a big impact on the rest of our life. People are doing that much because they’re feeling the need to work that hard to improve themselves for their bosses. If I am not answering this e-mail yet, maybe they will think I am not taking it that serious?  Previous research wasn’t showing what people assume to be true – that greater flexibility leads to overall more satisfaction,” says Scott Schieman, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto. “There’s this real experiential side where people say, ‘I don’t seem to be benefiting from schedule control(H. Villarica, 2010).

In the future flexibility will be less or stay stable. There has to be a solution to divide work and personal time. Burnouts will get an increase so there has to be a way to fix the problem of overworking employees. For now, is there a good perspective for your own personal time? Or should we give it up for a good future?

By Sanne van Eeuwijk, 1657485

References:

  1. Bletz(September 29, 2015)Deze 10 mega trends gaan ook jouw sales hard raken. Retrieved on 5-10-2016, on MT: http://www.mt.nl/series/het-nieuwe-zakendoen/deze-10-megatrends-gaan-ook-jouw-sales-hard-raken-deel-2/88427#
  2. Writer(June 29, 2015)The North American Workplace Survey. Retrieved on 4-10-2016, on Workplace Trends:https://workplacetrends.com/north-american-workplace-survey/
  3. Writer(February 3, 2015)The 2015 Workplace Flexibility Study. Retrieved on 4-10-2016, on Workplace Trends:https://workplacetrends.com/the-2015-workplace-flexibility-study/
  4. Villarica(November 2010)Is Work Flexibility Good or Bad? It’s Complicated. Retrieved on 20-10-2017, on TIME:http://healthland.time.com/2010/11/18/is-work-flexibility-good-or-bad-it’s-complicated-2/
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4 thoughts on “Let’s talk about flex, baby

  1. Wow, great article, i see a lot of numbers, however i also found some research of the CBS that the hours of work people do per week is actually decreasing. (See: https://www.cbs.nl/nl-nl/nieuws/2011/14/gemiddelde-arbeidsduur-afgelopen-jaren-nauwelijks-veranderd)

    Its a slight decrease, however i think if people know what their rights are on the workfloor, they know when to say “No” when their boss asks them to work overtime. I know that its not the attitude most employees need to have, but it is an attitude more people should have. The ability to say “No” to your boss, because you know you stand in your right and you know your health is decreasing because of work not only shows self-awareness and respect. But it also shows your boss you are someone who knows when things get too much.

    – Adriaan de Bruin, 1639160

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  2. At the end of your article you asked if ‘we should give it up for a good future’. I think you mean by this sentence that we will have to accept the fact that we are handing in more and more of our personal time and sleeping hours. We shouldn’t be okay with that, because after reading your article and doing some research I think flexible working hours affects employees efficiency drastically. Even though these employees might work more hours, these hours won’t be productive if the employer didn’t get enough sleep or any breaks. So I think that not you, and not even your boss benefits from these flexible working hours. We’re not robots and our brain can only focus optimal for a short amount of time before it needs a break. It is advised to take a break after at least every 50 to 90 minutes of work in order to stay productive. Patel, N. (2014)

    I also think digitisation is an important factor in the growth of flexible working hours. Now that everybody owns a smartphone it has become normalised to expect that employees are reachable at all times. So what happens when employees accept additional tasks in their personal time? Imagine a person trying to help with his kid’s homework and responding to a work e-mails. He’s giving energy and effort to two things in two completely different domains. He won’t be able to do both of them at 100%. Villarica, H. (2010) So I think that the blurring line that has emerged between work and personal time leads to a lot of additional stress that could only be reduced when we will start to properly divide work and personal time again. However I do think that some people love their work so much that they want to spend all their time on it, and then that’s fine. But you’ll have to figure out what works best for you and what kind of work settlement will makes sure that you get the most out of your working ànd your personal time.

    Patel, N. (2014) When, how, and how often to take a break. Retrieved from: http://www.inc.com/neil-patel/when-how-and-how-often-to-take-a-break.html

    Vallarica, H. (2010) Is work flexibility good or bad? It’s complicated. Retrieved from: http://healthland.time.com/2010/11/18/is-work-flexibility-good-or-bad-it%E2%80%99s-complicated-2/

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  3. (I’m a resitter so therefore the late response)

    I like the standpoint you have taken since it is different than one would expect. Working flexible hours is always promoted as something positive, but might it have backfired? In my guess, it would depend on the employer. Coming back at your question I think it has different answers. If an employee works overtime every night in order to get a promotion or just because they want to perform well, it is their own choice and there is nothing wrong with that. But if they do that because they feel pressured by their manager I think that is very wrong and should not be supported.

    I did some searching and stumbled upon a Standford studies (Bloom, 2015) in China which pointed out that there actually was a 13% increase in performance from employees working from home, 9% was from them investing more minutes and 4% was from higher efficiency. And weirdly enough; higher job satisfaction, better psychological attitude and less sick days. It says pretty much the opposite of your article which is odd. Although yours is studies held in Europe and the USA from 2015 and mine was in China in 2011. It might have something to do with the different work ethics?

    In your article you point out that 64% of the managers expect their employees to be reachable in their personal time. I think everybody would get burnt out if their boss kept contacting them at any point of the week. China seems cool working flexible hours. Maybe we should define what flexible hours mean? Is it always being available to your boss? Or is it planning your own hours? Or a balance of both?

    Timo van Vliet 1645312

    Nicholas Bloom (2015) DOES WORKING FROM HOME WORK? EVIDENCE FROM A CHINESE EXPERIMENT, retrieved from: https://people.stanford.edu/nbloom/sites/default/files/wfh.pdf

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  4. I think you’re right in some ways, but I also think a lot of the things you mention in your blog are incorrect. It may be that we’re expected to answer work related phone calls and emails, but if you’re not being payed at that moment, you’re not obligated to do anything. It’s your own choice to answer. And if you feel obligated anyway, you might want to discuss this with your boss.

    Second of all I think that flex working is ideal for some people. If you’re not a morning person, or if you do like to get up really early it might help to improve your mood.
    For me it would be great to get up a little later but also to work a little later. I don’t like to get up early and I don’t function well in the morning.

    So what you say might be true for some people, but not for everyone. I think guarding your own boundaries and making sure you don’t do things that you can’t handle flex working can turn out fine for everyone. But it’s your own responsibility to take care of yourself and make sure you don’t go too far!

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