Freedom, not company cars

Flexible Working Time Models Gaining Ground

Nine-to-five, five days a week – that was then. The more the up-and-coming generations are setting the tone at the workplace, the more the traditional white-collar working model is retreating. Digitally aware generations, with their own understanding of work, lifestyle and personal fulfilment, are breaking down conventional business structures, routines and processes. For Generation Y, born between 1980 and 1995, a good work-life balance takes top priority. They believe that professional success is all well and good, but only if the work itself is meaningful – and on no account at the expense of their wellbeing or private life. With the focus on meaningfulness and self-improvement, flexibility goes without saying. Why not work from a coffee shop – provided there’s Wi-Fi? While for Generation Y the boundaries between what is ideally meaningful work and leisure time are blurred, their successors in Generation Z, born after 1995, would like to keep their professional and private lives strictly separate. For them, working flexibly and on the move is fine, but only under clearly defined terms. In both cases, Generations Y and Z, personal freedom is more important than the company car, and the sabbatical more enticing than the company frequent-flyer card.

Flexible job models as a competitive factor

More and more companies are responding to the demands of their younger employees in Generations Y and Z, not least to overcome the skills shortage and to have a better hand in the “war for talent”. This is benefiting their other employees too. “Flexitime, working hours taken on trust, part-time work, working from home and even the sabbatical – we offer everything,” says Stefanie Hinrichsen, Human Resources Talent Acquisition Manager at Corporate Planning. “I’m hearing particularly from younger people that work is just one part of their lives. Meaningfulness is something they also experience outside the context of work. I get to meet plenty of people at job fairs who have a sideline in, say, jewellery design, blogging or refugee relief, and for that reason do not wish to devote themselves entirely to one full-time job.” This is where workplace improvement is the name of the game.

Workplace improvers, not workaholics

At Corporate Planning, the software engineers are regarded as the pioneers of workplace improvement. Many of them work from home – not least to save themselves a long commute. Arrangements that are particularly popular are, for instance, three-plus-two or four-plus-one, where up to four days are worked from home and only one or two days at the office. Corporate Planning’s Head of Development, Johannes Boppre, explains: “It’s actually quite sufficient for my staff to be in the office just once or twice a week.” Online collaboration tools ensure smooth cooperation among staff in various teams wherever the colleagues happen to be.

“It’s a question of enabling all our employees to arrange their working hours flexibly in a way that best suits their individual needs,” says Ms Hinrichsen. “After all, what counts is the result – regardless of whether it was produced at home, on the train, or anywhere else.”

Time out for full power

For those who nevertheless need some time away from the job, a sabbatical could be the solution. Simply taking three months off for training, to spend more time with their family or on a hobby, or perhaps for some extended travelling, could make all the difference. What’s in it for the company? An even more highly motivated workforce. “Our company thrives on our staff being ready and willing, and having the power, energy and motivation, to contribute their individual strengths to the full,” says Kathleen Raupach, Human Resources Manager at Corporate Planning. “This takes a careful balance between personal interests and professional challenges – and, as the case may be, some time out once in a while, too.” So flexible working time models mean that ultimately there’s something in it for everyone: for the staff and the company alike.