10.05.21
Thoughts

Flexibility + TandonHildebrand

 

One of the our founding pillars just over three years ago was what we call “Adult Trust Working”. Our focus would be meeting client needs and we would not have any prescribed working hours or holidays. We would simply trust and help each other to get the work done.

 

It was really clear to me what discussions I was not going to have or be part of at TandonHildebrand. I would never again have discussions about nursery hours, repairs to home equipment, deliveries, children having colds, nannies being sick, work hours being varied by minutes here and there and making up those during lunch breaks. It all just seemed such a waste of time given that ultimately we do the work we need to do to service client needs whenever that may be. It always seemed odd to me that there would be no discussion about working during holidays, maternity leave or week-ends but there would be lengthy discussions about how to manage the fact that nursery hours meant a mother having to arrive at work 15 minutes later than the stated contract start time.

The flip side was that I struggled with the lack of flexibility that often came with some agreed flexible working arrangements. As a friend once commented to me, “Why does flexible actually mean inflexible?”. I remembered being asked whether it was fair that those working full time would work much more than full time for no additional pay whilst part time working was much more regimented. I also found it so sad when the solutions to new mothers struggling with specific time commitments seemed to be them not attending the office on certain days. Somehow, it was more common to agree to them not attending than accepting that they may be late or leave early. I feared that this would reduce the visibility of senior women in the work place and risk losing all the guidance, training, support and mentoring that goes with working together and benefiting from one another’s energy…all of this upheaval to adjust to a temporary logistical need. Men and women need to work together more not less to increase the opportunity for women to progress.

 

As with all employee relations matters, policies aiming to equalise treatment of employees miss the fundamental aspect of the employment relationship: the trust between the employer and employee is individual. An employer either trusts the employee to do the work or it does not. An employer will therefore be minded to allow those that it trusts more flexibility than those that it does not which is reasonable and expected. A static policy risks making it difficult to deny the untrusted employees flexibility and/or grant the majority trusted employees flexibility.

-Tania Tandon

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