What is flexible working anyway?
There is a lot of talk about flexible working these days, and its benefits for a modern world. However people seem to get very confused over what it actually is.
Employers often see flexible working as a way to let employees adjust when they work or they hours that they work. So they might expect someone to work for 40 hours a week but they don't mind when they work those hours. In the U.K. this has generally been called flexi-time and it's been around for decades. Or they have an employee who has a major life changing experience who needs to be a part time worker for a while and they they let them work shorter hours. Or they might have a parent who needs to be at home for children during holidays and so they let them work at home for some of their time.
Now all these ideas about flexible working are fine and good but they are a very narrow view of what flexible working is about.
The world has changed a great deal over the last 100 years or so. The old days of a job or even a profession that would last you a life time are gone. I have experience of this myself after having three different professions myself (and now building a fourth). The profession I learned during my first job has now all but dissapeared (or at least changed into something radically different), this is the same situation that many face. But the skills I have learned in the professions I have had are all skills that can be used in new ways.
We are moving from a profession based worklife to a skills based worklife.
The security of being able to work for one employer your whole life are also diminishing for many. Not just because it's better to move to get on in life but their are fewer employers who can offer long term job security.
We could all panic and run around in circles like headless chicken crying out for the good old days or we could see this situation as an opportunity.
In the modern world, perhaps like never before, we have the chance of finding ways of balancing our lives. I always feel that the phrase work-life balance doesn't do justice to what we are saying. It's a phrase that we all understand but I want to go further. You see I think that sometimes your work (e.g. what you get paid to do) can be as enjoyable and fulfilling as any other part. Work life balance encourages us to think about work being something different to life: I don't think it is. I think work is as much a part of life as play or relationships or relaxation - the point is to get the balance.
A growing number of people are seeing an opportunity of being a self employed skills worker where the hours of working, the times of working and the place of working can be flexible. Why work for 40 hours if you can work for 20 and still get the kind of life you want or why work for 40 if you want to work for 60?
Of course this new approach to life involves people taking risks but the benefits can be huge. No one should take the leap into this way of life without counting the cost and understanding exactly what they are doing.
This is just the kind of thing that we developed LifeWorklife for; to help people use their skills to build a better life.
The first step in the process should always be to take a good look at your life and work out what you actually want out of it. Is work the thing you love or is it a means to an end? How much money do you honestly need to live the kind of life you want to live? How will you plan for the future? What skills do you have that might benefit an employer.
So we live in exciting times. Like many generations before us we have faced financial hardships and had to work out new ways of working in a modern world. But unlike generations before us we have been presented with an opportunity. The inovations that technology has provided gives us news ways of working that enable us to work when and where we like. I hope that we can see the benefits of this opportunity and make it work for us.