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Flexibility: Does it work?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009
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An understanding of the concept of flexible working, including temporary and part-time employment, as well as term-time working and other more recent initiatives, is a fundamental part of the AS level syllabus. An article in the current edition of Management Today challenges the assumption that all such initiatives - particularly job-sharing - are beneficial to both employer and employee.

On the upside, the writer somewhat hesitantly states that flexible working has helped a number of firms through the recession without the need for redundancies.

But on the down-side, the author is highly suspicious about whether such flexible working practices actually work:

“The big fallacy of job-shares is that if two people do half a week each, you end up with a full-time equivalent. But you don’t really. Inevitably, things end up falling through the cracks between the two, or deadlines get pushed back, or service levels suffer. As a business, you only have half the amount of knowledge of the role present at any one time. So when random questions come up, as they invariably do, you’ve only got a 50-50 shot of being able to answer them.”

Other potential pitfalls of job-sharing are stated as:

It gets even more complicated if the two people concerned don’t actually like each other.

Generally both people are miserable, because as far as their manager is concerned the best they can do is half a job.

It’s bad for the business, because in this case a half plus a half doesn’t necessarily equal one.

Follow the link to Management Today for the original article.


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