This article first appeared in Investment Week, 10th May, 2018
Historically, flexible working has wrongly been seen as a sign of a lack of professional commitment, with those working flexibly often being penalised in the workplace through denial of promotions, lower bonuses or snide comments from colleagues.
Thankfully, flexible working is going through a rethink and rebrand. Companies have started to call it 'agile working', 'dynamic working' or even 'smart working' to help move away from the negative connotations.
And it is also no longer considered just to be the domain of working mothers. It is for everyone, regardless of gender, age or seniority.
So how does this translate onto the investment floor? How can a fund manager possibly work 'dynamically' if they are not at their desk for the gong to go when markets open?
How can a salesperson or private client manager deal with their clients if they are not able to pick up their landline? The answer is technology.
We are at the heart of the fourth industrial revolution due to technology. The 9-to-5 (or 8-to-6) working model in the City comes from a pre-tech era. Nowadays, companies expect staff to always 'be on' and, thanks to technology, employees can respond to work matters within minutes.
Most firms provide outstanding technology platforms and equipment for their staff to ensure they are as well-connected and secure as they can possibly be.
We connect globally 24/7 but we do not trust our employees to work from home. We treat them like children and expect them to be at their desks for the entire working day like in a classroom.
So, here is a novel idea - instead of using face time in the office as a measure of performance, why not use a person's output? Surely the measure of success is not the hours you are glued to your desk but the work you produce? Results, output and productivity not face time.
Then we can see who is really adding value and not just hiding behind their screen booking their next holiday or weekly shop.
If we want to compete in attracting and retaining talent we need to change like other industries. We need to adapt how teams work together so non-flexi colleagues are not wrongly rewarded for merely doing their job. We need to forget about the concept of picking up slack.
Flexi-workers are committed, loyal employees who are just as driven, ambitious and productive but just want to find a different way of working that fits with the modern world we live in and should not be in place of a bonus, pay rise or promotion.
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