In busy Singapore, the term “work-life balance” has become something of a myth. Or rather, something that’s looked upon with a mixture of cynicism and disbelief. With more people juggling dual roles of being an office worker and either raising a family or taking care of their parents, what is perhaps more important here is “work-life integration”, or rather finding a way to better integrate your work and your other responsibilities.
According to the Towers Watson Global Workforce Study 2012, only 28% of employees in Singapore feel highly engaged at work. That’s an alarming statistic, and one that is lower than the average in the Asia Pacific region (39%). Interestingly, the study also found that employees tend to focus on monetary benefits largely due to the fact that the other peripheral benefits are not communicated to them clearly.
One of those benefits which you are probably not aware of is the Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs) in place to allow companies to keep their employees (such as yourself) more engaged and increase productivity.
Too scared to approach your boss or not sure of what you should say to present your case? Well, here we present 3 simple strategies that will make it rather hard for your boss to turn away such a good offer:
1. Highlight the Benefits of FWAs
In a recent survey conducted by the Straits Times and Employer Alliance in July 2014 on FWAs and work-life integration, a whopping 85% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that they would be attracted to work for a company that supports them in managing their work and family commitments. 82% of the respondents also agreed that they would have greater job satisfaction if they were given the freedom to integrate their work and personal life in the way that they wanted.
The last thing your boss wants to feel when considering whether or not to approve your FWA is to feel like he/she is taking a big risk with no apparent benefit, which is why it is key to point out some of the important benefits of FWAs:
- Talent maximization: the ability to retain experienced and competent talent is extremely crucial in today’s business landscape and it also gives companies an added advantage when it comes to recruitment
- Increased productivity: this is one of the key benefits, as employers may be worried that a flexible work arrangement means their employees are slacking off. On the contrary, employees who are more engaged in their work because they understand their employer has their well-being in mind take greater ownership and are willing to do more in their work.
- Cost Savings: Not only does the company save on training costs through retaining talent, but in some instances, there may be significant cost savings from office real estate when it comes to mobile work.
2. Map Out Your Deliverables and Performance Measurement
The one thing that would help your boss immensely in approving a flexible work arrangement for you is to help him/her understand that, rather than going to a beach and sipping a Piña Colada, you’re actually doing this so that you can be more productive. And the one big thing that always helps in the area of accountability is numbers and tangible, measurable results.
Mapping out a structured reporting system of what you are going to deliver and the rhythm of when your boss should review this with you not only tells your boss that you are being accountable for your work, but also that you understand their concerns and want to help them do their job better too.
This discussion with your boss could even have other added benefits of improving communication with him/her and also helping you to understand what they are looking out for and also to tune in to the bigger company picture and connect with what the company is trying to achieve at a broader level as well.
If you are looking for a suitable performance measurement structure to use, try something like the Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) framework used at some of the top companies like Google, Intel and LinkedIn as a way to review your progress. A simple search will provide several documents that you can use to map out your own OKRs. This video will give you a clearer picture on what to do:
If your job is relatively straight forward, you could also just propose a simple framework of deliverables and discuss with your boss how to assess the quality of your work as well. What is important is to give your boss a good picture of what to expect, and deliver on that.
3. Provide Different Options
No one likes to get trapped into saying yes when there’s only one option available. The beauty of the FWAs introduced by the Tripartite Committee on Work-Life Strategy is that there are several different options that are able to suit your lifestyle needs. Some of them are as follows:
- Telecommuting: where you perform your job at a location other than the workplace using information and communication technologies. Companies such as Cisco are famous for having offsite working policies. This could apply to telemarketers and customer service personnel.
- Flexi-Time/Staggered Working Hours: dropped the kids off at school and have time to kill before your official hours start? This arrangement allows you to vary your start and end times to suit your work and personal commitments.
- Flexible Hours: slightly different from the previous scheme, this allows you to work at any time of the day given that you complete a stipulated number of hours over a workweek. This is more relevant to jobs where work activities don’t depend on meeting people or executing work at specific times of the day.
There are plenty of other FWAs available and you can check out more at this page dedicated to work-life harmony. What’s even better is that under Work Pro, companies can get funding to implement these FWAs. The Work-Life Grant under Work Pro was recently enhanced in the middle of this year, so if there are any financial concerns about you taking on an FWA, this should help to ease your boss’ concerns.
Remember that ultimately, an increase in your own engagement and productivity stands to benefit your own career in the long run. What’s more, it could improve communication with your superiors as well and enhance career advancement opportunities, so why not give it a shot?
Have you tried working under an FWA before? Share your experiences here with us!
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