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Why a revolution in working time is needed
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Why a revolution in working time is needed

Kinga Bartczak

Flexible time management has always played a big role for me. My current employer offers a wide variety of working time models, and home office and telecommuting are also unproblematic. This is how I was able to complete my training as a certified systemic coach on the side, finish my studies and become a self-employed trainer and coach. The advantages are obvious: my expertise, the knowledge gained from my further training and my methodological competence tested in monthly supervision sessions are regularly incorporated into my work as a consultant and mediator. This added value was already clear to my employer at the beginning and was also endorsed by them.

Working time models from the last century

However, the fact that flexible working time models are still the exception and not the rule was brought home to me more and more often in conversations with friends, family and also with clients in the context of individual coaching. They view many companies’ working time models not only as outdated, but also as backward-looking. For example, some employers believe they are already among the top 3 in the world in offering part-time positions. Telecommuting or home offices are not welcomed and are cut back for a better sense of togetherness. Malicious tongues even claim that employees have to be “controlled” and that these new “Silicon Valley methods” do not fit in with the corporate culture. Accordingly, the word “trust-based working time” often sends shivers down the spines of most CEOs.

However, all this pales in the face of a fruit basket in the lounge. It is unlikely that any employee will be able to turn down such a benefit, and this already makes up for some other failings.

Far from it! I have already described how to do it differently in my article “Employer Branding – Employee Retention Made Easy”.

Why a nine-to-five job makes perfect sense

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly understand the argument FOR a nine-to-five job:

  • There is a “core working time” during which each employee is available for the customers
  • The exchange with colleagues is facilitated
  • Communication and team structure are strengthened
  • If there are any difficulties or coordination problems, the person in charge is immediately on the spot
  • Ensuring that employees do not overwork themselves and adhere to maximum working hours
  • As a supervisor, there is a better overview of what is currently being worked on

However, if we look at the opportunities offered by flexible working hours, the above arguments are rather weak.

The arguments for flexible working hours outweigh

Example 1: Promotion of the biorhythm

Not everyone is a “morning person” and most probably know the difference between “owls” and “larks”. Why force someone to work half-heartedly on projects at 07:00 in the morning, completely overtired and contrary to his or her biorhythm, when he or she can work on his or her tasks from 09:00 rested and without having drunk half a pot of coffee beforehand? The average performance curve shows that we all have certain high phases in the course of the day, as well as motivation killers. The average is of course not binding. It is much more important to know the individual performance peaks and to use them for more motivation and productivity.

The everyday life of all of us can be multifaceted. Many just have a bad morning now and then, so here it naturally lends itself to finishing the project in the evening. Maybe the stress level is particularly high during the week due to doctor’s appointments, parents’ evenings or a move and you would like to complete your tasks in peace over the weekend (perhaps even in a co-working space) and present the finished project the next day.

Basically, the credo should be: No matter how or when, the main thing is to fulfill your tasks, communicate about possible flexible time allocations and meet the deadlines so that the company does not suffer a loss (and thus indirectly the employee).

Promotion of the work-life balance
Photo: RossHelen – iStock

Example 2: Promoting work-life balance

Yes, they still exist. Some are completely overtired, others are speeding down the highway at 120 because they had to squeeze their screaming child into their clothes in the morning and throw it out of the car past columns of parked helicopter moms and dads. At work, people look at their watches every two hours because the pressure to do in six hours what others can’t do in ten is omnipresent. If there were home office, flextime or trust-based working time options here, it would be possible to dedicate oneself to the tasks in full concentration even in the afternoon or evening.

One idea would be to bring teams together not only according to competencies, but also according to the same working time models, so that communication is promoted.

Example 3: Promotion of professional and personal development

Most employees have a strong interest in personal and professional development. Many training courses extend over several days, sometimes even over the whole weekend. While regulated educational leave also exists depending on the state, compensation in the form of time off can be a tremendous value to the employee. Because one thing is clear: the acquired methods and competencies ALWAYS flow back into the company.

Example 4: Promoting your own external image

I myself have been blogging for over five years and have made a “name” for myself as a business blogger. I am intensively involved in the advancement of women, have volunteered as an equal opportunity representative for the group of students at RWTH Aachen University and am on the road as an independent trainer, keynote speaker and systemic coach.

None of this would have been possible if I didn’t have an employer who was in favor of my personal and professional development and who also saw the added value for their own company. Because contrary to what many expect, I’m not self-employed to “break out.” I enjoy working in my job and am sincerely grateful to be able to demonstrate my skills in other ways.

Thus, I have the feeling that I can freely and without constraint accompany women on their way to a meaningful personal and professional life within the framework of my self-employment, inspire them and specifically provide them with new methods to appear self-determined and authentic.

Of course, my free and self-determined way of organizing my life also reflects positively on my employer and increases its external image.

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Example 5: Employer branding

To make a long story short: Dear employers, welcome to the 21st century. Your employees are more happy about a 4-day week than about a fat company car. Flexibility always requires trust, and yes, you can sometimes fall flat on your face. But basically, a happy employee is more productive, braver, happier, healthier and more committed.

Dear employees, welcome to the 21st century. Home office and flextime mean more flexibility, but also more responsibility, because whether it’s morning, noon, evening or night, whether it’s during the week or on the weekend, you are increasingly required to keep an eye on your own work-life balance.

If your employer accommodates you with a time model of your choice, time management, independent work and communication are required to an even greater extent. But what difference does that make if you gain more time for yourself and your personal “happiness indicators” and come closer to a self-determined (working) life, right?

Not every model can be implemented in every industry. This is where openness and ingenuity are needed.

A New Zealand company is leading the way and many more will follow. The 4-day week is no longer a myth, but a reality:
Company introduces four-day week with full pay – and everyone wins

Basically, we should celebrate #WorldWomen’sDay every day and demand not only pretty roses, but better working time models for women, men, simply for everyone.

Read more about this and the blogparade at: #balanceforbetter #internationalwomensday

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About the author

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Kinga Bartczak advises, coaches and writes on female empowerment, new work culture, organizational development, systemic coaching and personal branding. She is also the managing director of UnternehmerRebellen GmbH and publisher of the FemalExperts magazine .

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