Flexible jealousy


Recently, one of my staff members who works in a remote office complained that others in the remote office, who report to different managers from various other departments, come in late, take their lunch early, leave early and frequently work from home. Our team cannot do the same thing because we support our external customers and have contractual obligations to provide support during certain hours.

He mentioned that our department head was also complaining to him that people do not seem to be in the office. Our company has a flexible schedule policy when possible and these employees may have an arrangement with their managers where they work from home for some hours to make sure they work their full 40 hours.

I'm not sure how (or even if) to approach this with HR, the management team, or my department head. The last time I approached HR with an issue it created bad feelings between our department and another department. Any ideas?

Lisa, Dublin

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Chris Welford's Answer:

It's quite understandable that your staff member should feel this way but the problem lies in the measurement of inputs over outputs.

Much of our thinking in relation to the world of work is dominated by the machine metaphor, where we attach undue importance to consistency, conformity and control. In the end it's what's achieved that counts, not the slavish adherence to a system or timetable.

As customers we know this. Who cares if the phone is always answered on the third ring if the company representative rarely resolves our issues first time and we end up being passed through an organisational process of Byzantine complexity?

So before we run to HR and ask them to adopt the role of corporate police officer, we need to step back and consider what is being accomplished. It's quite possible that objectives are being met and targets being reached with non-standard work patterns and if your performance management system doesn't recognise this, it's almost certainly overdue a re-vamp!


About our Expert

Chris Welford
Chris Welford

Chris Welford is the founder of Sixth Sense Consulting and an experienced management consultant and coach. He is a member of the British Psychological Society (BPS) and the European Coaching and Mentoring Council (EMCC) and a Chartered member of the CIPD.