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Flexism in the workplace

‘Flexism’. The term meant for allowing flexible working hours is now commonplace in most businesses. This is essential in the modern day, as working parents or those with a duty of care for one another need hours that can work around the other integral and immovable parts of their life. This week, Pro Landscaper speaks with Giles Heap, managing director of CED Stone Group, about the principals of ‘flexism’ and how it affects his business.

“While thinking about this subject and chatting to one of our employees, I realised that I personally did not think that we have any issues with ‘flexism’,” Giles begins. “We have a number of mum’s working for us, many are relatively new, and I felt that as a company we generally handle flexible working hours sensibly and sensitively.” This is a necessity as companies do not want to lose out on the most efficient members of staff simply because they cannot work around set office hours.

“However, I decided to ask one of our staff members, who is a mother herself, to see how she feels.”

Her response is below:

“As a working mother it is not necessarily imperative that I have flexibility in my working hours but it is very important to me.

“I don’t need the odd hour to attend my children’s sports days, nativity plays and other school functions. I don’t need to leave early when the school calls and my child needs picked up due to illness; I could make other arrangements.

“I do not need this flexibility, however having it makes me a happier and more efficient employee. If I didn’t get the time off for these events and instances, my working day would be spent feeling ‘mum guilt’ and my productivity would be down.

“Fortunately, as a CED employee I feel supported when I need, or want a little flexibility in my working hours, so neither my career nor family life have been hindered by ‘flexism’ in the work place.”

Delving into the legality of the matter of flexible working, Giles continues: “The law is quite definitive about flexible working hours and requesting them. However, I would hope that any company claiming to understand the constraints and demands of the modern society, would also understand that by enabling staff to work a little flexibly when needed, it helps everyone in the long run, including the company.

“There will be some industries when this is not an option, but I don’t think that ours is one such industry,” Giles says of the seasonal and deadline set landscaping industry. “There will be some occasions when a manager just has to say sorry, no, but they are few and far between.

“If someone starts to abuse the company’s – dare I say – generosity, in randomly allowing flexible working when required, then that is a personnel matter and should be handled as such.”

Concluding on the issues, Giles says: “I do feel there has to be compromise in any relationship and the employee/employer relationship is often a difficult one to find a healthy balance. However, we are all human and we all have unexpected things crop up. Though, for a company to feel forced into rearranging its entire workforce/procedures/client meeting requests etc. around one person’s part-time availability is nonsensical, and an employee should also recognise that.”

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