How to design a flexible job

Teams

 

Working Families published a report this week highlighting how flexible working is not enough if employers want to improve productivity and address burnout.

The report calls on employers to address workload and says there needs to be a renewed focus on work life balance as so many parents are facing burnout and exhaustion. One way of achieving this is through looking at what jobs involve, seeing where flexibility could be introduced and ensuring that workload is feasible.

Job design has come increasingly to the fore in recent years, but many managers are still to quick to make a decision on flexible working – whether positive or negative – without carefully considering how it will work in practice and what the implications are for workload, particularly in an era when people are available at all hours. In an age of fast-paced technological change it can hard to estimate what full-time hours are and therefore what part-time hours mean. Here Capability Jane talks about how to design flexible jobs which are effective.

The flexible working implementation challenge

Why do many organisations find flexible and part-time working options so difficult to embed and why do so many individuals find it so hard to progress in their careers on a flexible or part-time basis?

The reality is that in today’s fast-paced, global organisations, encouraging managers to be open to flexible working practices can be a real challenge. Operational pressures, a fear of the impact on the ability to meet customer demands and the perceived complexity are often cited as barriers to saying yes. Conversely, the fear of saying “no” can result in agreement to flexible working patterns that are not sustainable for the business or the individual in the long term.

Understanding and evaluating the specific job design is an important and often overlooked step in the process of determining whether and how flexible and part-time working can be successfully implemented. Embedding the principles of job design for flexible working in talent processes can dramatically increase the acceptance, adoption and chance of successful implementation of flexible working patterns.

There are over 50 variations of flexible working patterns and each will have a different impact on the role, the team, the business and the ability to deliver successfully in the role. The bottom line is: Not all flexible working options will work for all roles.

The importance of job design

Roles and role families come in different shapes and sizes with numerous factors that determine the nature of the role and how work needs to get done. Understanding and evaluating the specific job design is an important step in the process of determining whether and how flexible and part-time working can be successfully implemented.

Having a clear understanding of what will work for a role, the team, the business and what will not, can empower managers to be more open to flexible working patterns and think more creatively about how work gets done. Fundamentally, it is the nature of the role and the operating model for the team that will determine what flexible working patterns will work for specific roles and role families.

Flexible job design is the missing link to enabling an increase in the adoption and acceptance of flexible working. Factoring job design into job role creation, recruitment requisitions, new project team mobilisation, succession planning, organisation design and re-structure significantly enhances the likelihood of adoption and the successful take-up of the right flexible working options.





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