In a new guest post, Millennial marketing and workplace blogger Tanya Korobka takes an alternative look at why workplaces should embrace flexible working.

9 to 5 in an office is not the natural order of things, especially in the internet era, where we have technology that allows us to work anywhere, any time.

But although we have all the gear, we’re still following the old patterns. We collectively come into the office every day to stare into our machines and – in some working environments – sit in silence.

The internet was supposed to liberate us from fixed location and offer us greater flexibility, but it hasn’t necessarily delivered all that it promised. If all we ever do with technology is use it the same way we’ve used the old technology, we’re never going to find a way of working more efficiently.

What does the worker look like in the future?

Despite this, the Western world has seen a shift in attitudes towards work in the last five years, especially amongst Millennial generation.

The mind-shift has changed from “managing by seeing” to “managing by results”, which makes the 9-5 rule meaningless. Read more on new attitudes to work on Millennial workplace blog Lucky Attitude.

Organisations are realising that if they want to attract knowledge workers, to whom work is an activity not a place, they need to offer much greater flexibility – and that means giving these workers greater choice and control over where and how they do their work.

NB! Knowledge workers are those whose work is not directed by others. Often they can take their work around with them wherever they go.

In the future, productivity will count for more than sticking to conventional office hours and regulations.

Do we choose the way we work or do economic circumstances choose for us?

Economy has a big role to play in our attitudes to work. During a recession, there’s always going to be somebody standing in line to fill our shoes, so we don’t really have a choice rather than conform to the norm.

I believe that skill shortages and improving economy are two factors which drive the need and opportunity for flexible working.

Highly-skilled workers will set the rules. When employers see that they can’t attract the best people with the skill-set they require due to rigid working hours and regulations, they will have no other choice but to adjust to attract talent.

Presenteeism or visibility in the workplace is still regarded as more valuable than the actual outcome employees produce. This is especially true for middle managers, whose status is associated with having their team around them. Their place in a hierarchy is very much about managing by seeing and that control is very difficult to let go of.

In the near future, an employee’s status is going to be judged by your ability to coach and inspire your team, not about how good you are at micromanaging.

Does flexibility benefit the worker or does it benefit the boss?

Flexible working is ultimately the question of trust between an employer and employee.

By allowing your workers to work flexibly, you are essentially saying that you trust them to do a good job regardless of whether they are supervised or not.

Learning to trust your team is really at the heart of all this.  Knowledge workers need autonomy to flourish and to really make a difference.

The future of work isn’t about hierarchy, it’s about trust. It’s where commitments are balanced against expertise, so when somebody might work flexibly two and a half productive days a week, they are not considered to lack commitment.

The future of work is about judging people on their performance and their achievements, not on the hours and the presence that they have in a workplace.

Those employers who can attract and retain these excellent self-motivated and results-oriented employees without having to spend on unnecessary overheads, are the winners.

Tanya Korobka runs the UK’s leading Millennial marketing and workplace blog Lucky Attitude. Follow her @Tanya_digital

About the author

Tristan Potter

Tristan has a decade's worth of experience writing content and copy for organisations across Bristol and the Southwest of England. He has written on a diverse range of topics, including technology, philosophy, politics, and recruitment. His writing has appeared in The Drum, HR Grapevine, and The Guardian, among other publications. He joined Hireserve in March 2022.