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Suffering from high blood pressure and having fainted at work once, Arindam Mitra*, Vice-president of training with an insurance firm has worked flexi timings for almost two years.
Unable to cope with the demands of a high profile job, travel and family pressures Pooja Joshi* opted for flexi work.
When Bengaluru-based IBM employee Smita Iyengar’s* manager told her “I do not care whether you sit in the park or at home. I am concerned with your deliverables.” she knew flexi hours were the way to go.
Arindam, Smita and Pooja represent a growing tribe, one that works flexible hours.
Flexi timings refer to an arrangement or scheme under which employees are required to be “at work” for a core period while the rest of the day is “flexi time”.
A typical flexi time arrangement allows an employee to alter the start and end times of her/his work day around the normal schedule of 8:00 am to 5:00 pm it works as follows:
Start work between 8 am and 10 am (flexi time)
Have to be at work 10 am to 1 pm (core time)
Lunch break 1 pm to 2 pm (flexi time)
Have to be at work 2 pm to 5 pm (core time)
Clock out 5 pm to 7 pm (flexi time)
Whatever time employees’ work over and above the core time will be credited to their time spent at work or on the job (regardless of where they work from). It involves individualized start and end times with varied hours by day, but consistency in the total number of hours worked weekly. Which means you need not work 8 hours every day but you have to work 40 hours in a week because that is what your work week amounts to.
The scheme works as a tool to enhance productivity and provides meaningful work opportunities.
Women often find the transition to work post marriage or the birth of a child, challenging and fraught with complications. In 2008, The Tata’s began ‘Second Careers’ a 6-month internship program wherein live, short-term projects were assigned to women with the objective of helping them reorient with current industry needs. On its completion they were inducted in to the group. The program is still running. In 2011, IBM rolled out two similar programs, ‘Bring Her Back’ and ‘Liquid Plus’.
Flexi timings do more than fostering gender diversity. Tech companies like HP, IBM, Cisco and Microsoft use it to deal with problems like increasing travel time, spiraling real estate costs and the complexities of maintaining office space for a growing workforce.
At IBM India and HP’s India operations, work-from-home no longer classifies as an HR incentive meant for women only or a select few; it is an intrinsic part of their work culture. Forget dedicated cabin space, they don’t even have to mark their attendance or swipe employment cards. Personal tasks can be carried out without having to take leave from work.
The focus is on getting the job done rather than how much time you spend in the office. What matters is the results not how often you have met your boss or interacted with your colleagues.
Flexi timings are a tool that companies are using to create a workforce that is high on deliverables and low on stress.
(* names changed to protect privacy of individuals referred to as examples in the article)
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Alok Sunghay M S
Analyst, Northern Trust