Time for change: how organisations can become truly flexible

Flexibility is not exclusively rooted in space, there is an opportunity to experiment with flexible time as organisations look to become more flexible, says Professor Lynda Gratton

Flexibility will be the chief legacy of the pandemic as organisations look to become more resilient in the face of future disruption. In an exclusive interview with WORKTECH Academy, Professor Lynda Gratton of London Business School, author of many books on the future of work, explains that there is a key opportunity to ‘start again with a white sheet of paper’ to rethink the purpose of the office.

Part of this process, says Gratton, is to encourage business leaders to experiment with flexible time, such as a four-day week or staggered working hours and consider this is tandem with flexible space which is currently receiving the most attention from corporates.

‘Finland has passed a new law which replaces the concept of workplace with the more neutral term -working place…’

The move to more flexible working hours is already being explored by progressive leaders around the world. Finland’s Parliament has passed a new Working Hours Act which replaces the concept of workplace with a more neutral term ‘working place’. This means working hours will no longer be tied to a specific place of work but will simply mean time spent working.

In addition, Ireland’s newest trade union Forsa, with 80,000 members, has produced research showing that 77 per cent of workers support the idea of a four-day week – defined as same job, same salary, same productivity but over four days rather than five.

Microsoft Japan has also tested out a four-day work week in its Japanese offices and found that employees were not only happier but significantly more productive. Its pilot called Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer 2019 involved giving its entire 2,300-person workforce five Fridays off in a row without decreasing pay. The shortened weeks led to more efficient meetings and boosted productivity by a staggering 40 per cent.

The research so far demonstrates that flexibility can and should transcend the physical space and be applied to time. Watch the full interview with Professor Lynda Gratton in our Innovation Zone.

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