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Stretch Beyond Flexible Working

Stretch Beyond Flexible Working

Jo Brown

almost 2 years ago by Jo Brown

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Stretch Beyond Flexible Working


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And no, I am not talking about yoga. The way we work is changing, by 2025 it is estimated that up to 40% of the workforce will be working in a flexible way.  This means more than just accommodating flexible working hours and part-timers in your team.  You may employ a ‘Slashie’…

A ‘Slashie’ is someone who works in several spaces, is qualified in their specific business area and has their fingers in many pies. Think back to your last social gathering where you met people that were new to you.  If you asked what they did for work, you may have heard something along the lines of ‘Well I do several things.  I work part-time in Marketing but I also run my own styling business and am a contractor for a dog walking business once a month on a Sunday. Oh, and I am also a parent to two.’

Marketing/Small Business Owner/Styling/Dog Walking/Mum/Dad/Carer. OR University Student/Hospitality/Social Media Guru.  This is a Slashie – a member of the growing agile workforce that do not fit into any particular box and have multiple, wonderful skill sets. They are probably, but not necessarily a Gen Y and are definitely, no longer part of the ‘job for life’ generation.

Call them a Slashie or not, my point is, if businesses hope to thrive, they will need to learn to become more flexible and agile in their thinking and in what they offer employees. Relying on an employee to perform one sole role, within the 9 am – 5 pm, Monday to Friday bracket and be in that job for life, is no longer a realistic expectation.

We are seeing first hand a huge increase in candidates, particularly high-end income earners and field specialists, holding out for flexible work hours, spaces, flexible management and indeed, flexible roles.

If we embrace this emerging workforce culture shift, then we can foster a more creative, diverse, innovative and ultimately profitable business model. In welcoming these types of candidates into the workplace, we are welcoming in those at the top of their field, willing to put their money where their mouth is to get the job done.  This will enable management to focus on strategic objectives, long term plans and employee satisfaction, before hierarchy, office structure and rules.

In the current candidate strong market, where talent is moving faster than ever, a business that wants to thrive and prosper must look at becoming more agile in how they build teams and manage projects.

But where does it start? This way of working needs to be built into the initial recruitment planning, discussed at the top level before the recruitment process starts. High level, quality candidates at initial stages of their job hunt will ask about flexibility and working in an agile way. Relying on the old method of full-time employees for every role is out-dated, will slow you down and means you are likely to miss out on the top talent for the role.

Companies that find themselves still working in an out-dated way will discover that they have neither the skills nor the ability to sustain success. When reviewing resumes and speaking with potential employees, we need to avoid the temptation of putting them in a box.


Ways to Shake Up The Process


1. At the recruitment planning stage, as yourself ‘What If?’ What if we found the ideal candidate but they only wanted to work remotely? What if we found the perfect leader, but he/she wants to focus on strategy and business optimisation but does not want to manage a team? What if we want to someone with a mix of skills? How would we advertise this? What if we offered a new way of working and who would this attract to our team?

2. Focus on defining capabilities and access to skills rather than roles. Free yourself from assumptions and look at your team as a whole. For example, what skills do we have within the team, where are the gaps and how can we use what we already have?

3. Discuss with your leaders and managers how to focus on PROJECTS, not PEOPLE.  Do they have the skills to motivate teams, coach individuals and bring out the hidden gems in people? If not, source good training and implement into the culture.

4. Talk to your current employees. Use their time with their leaders to discuss topics linked to agility such as:

  • “What do you want that you don’t have access to?”
  • “Where do you feel limited?”
  • “What hidden skills do you have?”
  • “What are your passions outside of work and what skills can they bring to the team?”
  • “Have you ever run your own business, contracted or helped in a family business? Gained a qualification that is seemingly not linked to their current role?” You might discover that your bookkeeper is awesome at rostering and Hootsuite!


Ultimately, candidates rule the market and this new way of working is going to force managers and leaders to rethink their employee value proposition (EVP) for future employees. Those who are getting on board with this workplace transformation will see evidenced results in their business including growth, high performance and increased satisfaction and engagement within their teams.

The payoff for people leaders will be they are to think more broadly, approach complex problems differently and utilise the top agile talent in the workforce.

The world of work is changing. How agile are you willing to become?

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