Abhijit BhaduriGuest Author

‘My boss agreed to flexi-hours but now appears miffed’

By | Abhijit Bhaduri |Keynote speaker, Author and Columnist

‘My boss agreed to flexi-hours but now appears miffed’

“I recently joined an MNC in the talent acquisition team. I requested my reporting manager to allow me a 9 am-6:30 pm shift. I have to rush home to pick my daughter from my parents house. She didn’t pay much heed to it. For a couple of days I had to stretch beyond 6:30 pm at work. I requested her again that I won’t be able to do this regularly. I even assured her that work won’t suffer. If the situation so demands, then I will stay back as I have done in the previous organizations as well. “
“My boss pushed back and instructed me to work as per other team members’ timings. That is typically a 10 am to 7:30 pm shift. While I don’t mean to compare, but no one else has the challenge that I do. Politely, I reminded my boss about my situation and requested that I be allowed to do the early shift.”
“She somehow has agreed. But her behavior towards me is making me uncomfortable. She leaves no opportunity to show her displeasure with me. When she asks team members to have lunch or tea with her, I am never invited. She rarely acknowledges my presence and appears miffed with me all the time. She does not even acknowledge pleasantries when we pass each other in the office. While she will stop to chat with a colleague, she looks through me. Although I work for 9.5 hours, her behavior makes me feel guilty. I don’t feel like working here. How should I handle this situation?
When Times of India asked me to respond to this workplace dilemma, here is what I suggested. Let me know what you would have done.

Flexible work schedule

The workplace is changing and a lot of people need to change with it. If employers ask employees to give their best, a simple way to do that would be to acknowledge their contribution.
As families get increasingly nuclear, the support systems that existed, have become fragile. Having the flexibility at the workplace becomes that much more important.
The LinkedIn Global Talent Trends report for 2019 speaks of Workplace Flexibility as one of important factors to retain talent. According to the report, 72% of talent professionals agree workplace flexibility is becoming increasingly important. Employees want the option to work when and where they’d like.
This is extremely important in shaping the future of recruiting and talent. Companies that embrace work flexibility have a huge competitive edge.
There has been a 78% increase in job posts, mentioning “workplace flexibility” since 2016. Your organization must start viewing allowing flexibility as the norm that employees expect. It is a great method of making the organization an attractive employer for many more people.

Life-stages demand flexibility

Your organization would be wise to stop thinking of this as a discretionary perk and make it available as an option to everyone. Most organizations are going the extra mile to accomodate the specific challenges that employees have. Balancing their work demands and life outside of work is a common issue most employees face today.
According to studies, while flexible working hours mean different things to different employees, it is highly appreciated both for private and work-related reasons.
Organizations go the extra-mile to encourage new mothers to upskill themselves and feel comfortable as they get back to the workplace. The organizations that seek to retain talent, make an extra effort to be empathetic towards life-stages of employees. Life events often remind people to renew their education and skills.

Informed decision

If you had clearly stated this requirement of working during specific hours, you should been told that the organization does not allow flexible timings. In that case the decision to join or not would have been a conscious choice by both you and your manager.
Sometimes these circumstances arise after you have joined. The ecosystem that existed when the person had started working, evolves. Hey, it happens even to employers. They may need to relocate to a different location to take advantage of a tax break. People work through these scenarios.
Offices are sometimes located in places without public transport. Employers support the employee commute in many ways. When the employees know that their employer is going to go the extra mile, they will go above and beyond. It works both ways.
If it is a temporary scenario, I suggest you live with the discomfort.

Three options

But if the need to have flexibility of timings seems important, then there are three options for you to choose from:
  1. Talk to your manager and tell her what her behavior makes you feel. Sometimes the bias can be unconscious.
  2. Ignore. This is my least preferred recommendation. Because there is no rule to ensure that your manager smiles and exchanges pleasantries with everyone.
  3. Most people like the flexibility that being a freelancer can offer. Being a freelancer needs a whole new set of skills that being an employee. Until you build the skills to go solo, choose one of the other two options given above. Else jump into the new world of gig work. India is one of the four hottest markets for gig workers besides China, Brazil and Indonesia.
Learning to manage a distributed workforce, being inclusive are two essential skills needed to manage a diverse workforce. Physical presence and hours logged then becomes less important than the output and impact. Some organizations train managers on dealing with virtual employees. How to deal with a team that is working across different time zones and flexible work arrangements. Maybe your employer would do well to invest in that.
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