By Emily Veitch
A big downside to working ‘for the man’ has got to be the restrictive office hours. In at 9 (or for some, 8am) and out at 5:30 with an hour’s lunch. And if you’re out of the office for more than two hours for some unavoidable reason, a few bosses might make you put those hours down as leave.
We’ve all heard whispers of the glorious idea of flexi-time, but have accepted so far that this particular luxury is reserved for heads of companies and entrepreneurs. But what we haven’t considered and possibly proposed to our managers or decision makers, is how beneficial a little bending of the rules can be.
Founded by outfits like Ideo and Google, the thought behind flexi-time is, at its core, to curb complacency and stunt staff turnover. And this is mainly done by keeping staff happy.
For a lot of people though, flexi-time sounds like a dangerous concept for companies to consider as it could open a political and financial can of worms. Productivity is often key when considering flexi-time, as is favouritism and special treatment.
How then can flexi-time benefit both employer and employee? A suggestion which is starting to take root in small businesses is that of Your Day. A day a week (barring Friday) is chosen by each employee, and on this day that are allowed to come in an hour early and leave an hour early.
Big deal, you say? While it doesn’t sound particularly innovative off the bat, there are clever, psychological benefits behind it:
- It allows people to feel less a part of the rat race. When they are driving home at 4pm and everyone is still at work it gives them the feeling that they have ‘cheated’ the system and have somehow engineered a balance in their lives (even if this is literally only once a week).
- It allows employees to feel in control. By choosing the day and choosing what to do with that time, employees feel ‘included’ by their bosses to help ‘change the status quo’.
- It makes people more cheerful. Having two days to look forward to (one naturally being Friday and the other being Their Day) enables employees to feel that they are ‘lucky’ and are treated well by their employers which then translates into goodwill towards the company and their colleagues.
- It makes people more interesting. Being given ‘an hour off’ (which they aren’t really, as they are coming in early) inspires people to do more with that day, to ‘capitalise’ on it. Whether this means spending an hour outside or cooking a big meal for their family or visiting a relative, it makes people break the monotony of their own routines and allows them to explore other limited sides of their lives.
- It encourages employees to look for other ‘design’ solutions that will better their lifestyles while benefitting the company.
Although it’s simply a small rearrangement of time, it still feels like the beginning of something exciting, where our lives are the priority around which work has to fit, instead of the other way around.
The team at Peppermint Source like this idea so much, that we’ve decided to take it on. From next week, Emily will be leaving early (and arriving early!) on a Wednesday and Louis has taken Thursdays. Follow us on Twitter or keep visiting the site to find out how it’s working… or if it’s not.