Since 30 June 2014 employees can make a statutory application to request their legal right for flexible working hours.
This is a great idea especially for those who may need to take an hour out from work for their child’s school appointment without taking a holiday day. Or for an employee who is part of the growing sandwich generation, whereby people have both children and elderly parents to look after.
Business leaders are well aware that good employee engagement saves a fortune in recruitment fees, training new people, and customer satisfaction, so flexible working is good news, right?
Well perhaps not. How can we trust employees to work hard from home? How can we minimize problems? How can we manage the situation?
My research shows that many bosses don’t believe people are trustworthy, but what people do not realize is that the more we trust the more we become trustworthy and there is neuroscientific evidence to support this premise.
Oxytocin for instance, is a hormone and acts as a neuromodulator. Oxytocin is popularly known as the bonding chemical or love hormone.
There has been a lot of research into Oxytocin, some of which suggests that it has negative effects in certain situations. For the purposes of this topic however, studies show that it enhances pro-social behaviour and one area is that of trust. When people feel trusted they produce more oxytocin in the brain. And the more oxytocin they produce the more they become trustworthy. This is an example of the vast array of feedback loops in the brain. We actually become trustworthy when we are trusted.
There are different considerations to make however, when managing people who work from home.
For instance, working in isolation can be demotivating and sometimes lead to depression. This is because people may feel excluded from their colleagues as they’re out of the loop with office gossip and social events. Perhaps making a conscious effort to bring all team members together on a regular basis will alleviate this.
Of course, working remotely doesn’t have to be every day. Sometimes it works better if people spend a couple of days working from home and the rest of the week at the office.
Equally there are those who are better suited to the stimulation of an office environment, so it is wise to be honest for best performance.
Flexible working is here, so we need to embrace it and make the best of it.