In recent years we have seen an enormous shift in expectations of where we work. During the global pandemic, many people worked remotely, from home. Others divided their time between working at home and work, commonly known as hybrid working. Since then, many workers have continued to take advantage of the benefits of either remote and hybrid working. Both employers and employees are divided in their preferences for face-to-face or remote work. This distinction is something that companies have had to consider and address in their policies.
This new flexibility in working styles is not limited to where we work, but also how we divide our work and personal time. According to Uwa Odefa, a Human Resources expert, we are likely to see a move towards non-linear work schedules over the next year or so. In a recent Linkedin post, Uwe explained the concept of non-linear working and outlined the possible pros and cons.
Conventional, or linear work, requires an employee to dedicate a large block of time exclusively to work. Whether in the office or working from home, the established model is that employees work from a starting time until a finishing time. That they spend a relatively undisturbed portion of their day to work.
Non-linear work allows employees to stop and start when they need to. This way of working means that employees can fit in whatever personal activities or appointments they need to. The working day changes from a monolithic block into smaller and more convenient chunks that can be moved as necessary.
Although flexible timetables or “flexitime” is not a new concept. It has, until now been limited to a few industries or jobs. This way of working, predicts Uwe, will be a trending topic over the next year as the idea goes mainstream. This is just a part of a larger tendency, explains UWE, citing research that shows that there is growing demand for innovation in the labour market. Along with remote work and a push for a 4 day working week, non-linear working is likely to become more widespread.
Uwe explains that, from an employer’s perspective, there are plenty of reasons to facilitate non-linear working. A more flexible approach could improve company culture and facilitate a happier, healthier and subsequently more productive workforce. This could be a real benefit for cost margins. Companies that offer this degree of flexibility might be more likely to attract top talent. This way of working may also reduce burnout and improve retention. On the other hand, this less-conventional working style can present new challenges. Misaligned timetables could complicate communication and project management, prolonging tasks.
From the point of view of an employee, being able to prioritise personal activity when necessary has obvious appeal says Uwe. A flexible timetable could accommodate other life activities such as time with family, a routine at the gym or other hobbies. On the other hand, this way of working clearly isn’t for everybody. Many people don’t have the self-discipline to work without a clear timetable and some degree of supervision. Some employees really benefit from a motivating work environment. Others appreciate a clear distinction between work time and personal time. It’s hard to really enjoy free time if you’re potentially still on call.
Non-linear working can be a great way to improve work-life balance so is likely to be in demand from employees. However, it doesn’t suit all personalities, working styles or sectors. Companies will need to consider whether this way of working is appropriate for them. Companies offering this level of flexibility will need to develop good policies to reduce risks such as demotivation and coordination problems. With such risks addressed by good implementation, the potential benefits of a more attractive, productive and profitable company are clear.
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According to the text, remote and hybrid working are generally good for employees but bad for employers.
According to the text, there will probably be an increase in people working irregular timetables.
According to the text, the majority of people prefer to work at regular times.
According to the text, companies will be obliged to let workers adopt non-linear timetables.
According to the text, some people prefer to keep work and personal life more separate.