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2012

Research Proposal
Ateeq Ahmad Abid

[SIGNIFICANCE OF WORKPLACE FLEXIBILITY]

Significance of Workplace Flexibility

Contents
1. 2. 3. 4. Introduction: ................................................................................................................................... 2 Problem Statement: ........................................................................................................................ 3 Objectives: ...................................................................................................................................... 4 Literature Review: ........................................................................................................................... 4 4.1. Different Aspects: ................................................................................................................... 4 When? ............................................................................................................................. 4 Where? ............................................................................................................................ 5 How? ............................................................................................................................... 6

4.1.1. 4.1.2. 4.1.3. 4.2. 5.

Culture of the organization: .................................................................................................... 6

Methodology................................................................................................................................... 7 5.1. 5.2. 5.3. 5.4. Background Study and Data Gathering:.................................................................................. 7 Establish Base Case: ................................................................................................................ 7 Survey and interviews: ............................................................................................................ 7 Analysis and end results:......................................................................................................... 8

6.

Utilization of research ..................................................................................................................... 8

References: ............................................................................................................................................. 8

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1. Introduction:
One of the most important assets of an organization is the employee. These internal resources or internal customers the core functionality that are responsible in the success of any organization. Over the passage of time different principles have originated around the same concept such as motivational theories, talent management, knowledge management, coaching, mentoring and trainings. If we look into these all concepts and principles, we find one area of commonality and that is the growth of employees. Whatever the business area is the main aim of any business is to generate profit. Profit within an organization is directly proportional to the productivity of the organization on the whole. Workplace flexibility is one component of worklife effectiveness. Organizations use it as a tool for improving recruitment and retention, managing workload and responding to employee work-life needs where appropriate (Emory, 2009). Defining workplace flexibility in one definition is in fact tricky as different people imply different things to it. Flexibility is in fact about a worker and an employer building changes to when, where and how an individual will perform for fulfilling the individual as well as business needs. Basically, flexibility permits both individual as well as business requirements to be met through making adjustment to the time (when), place (where) and behaviour (how) in which a worker works. Flexibility should be mutually favourable to the company and worker and should result in a better quality work. Work place flexibility refers to the extent of autonomy available to the employees in an organization for choosing their starting and ending working hours, and other working alternatives such as telecommuting, flexitime, compressed work schedule, job sharing and part-time jobs etc. These alternatives may vary from industry to industry, organization to organization, or even employee type to employee type. There are different ways in which flexibility can put in significance to a company and meet up employees' needs. It is important to know the expectations of the employees so that their needs can be effectively met. Vroom(1964) defined expectancy as a subjective probability of an action or effort(e) leading to an out-come or performance(p) expressed as e->p. According to Eerde and Theiry(1996); in practice expectancy has also be perceived in relation and co-relation between and action and an outcome. In my opinion work place flexibility is a way the company and the employee seek win-win. From the employee perspective, flexibility can be offered in terms of a reasonable work/life balance, reducing costs like time and travelling, increased sense of responsibility, greater job satisfaction, loyal, respect and trust to the employer and for the company and increased level of motivation. From the companys point of view, this may result in higher motivation and commitment by the employee resulting in higher productivity, lower absenteeism, and greater responsibility. In many case the policy can bring the aspect of lower costs for the company as well. We live in a society with ever growing diversity. Diversity also plays an important role in building up environmental constraints in the organization. For example, different religious groups have different occasions and obligations that they have to abide by. Similarly, diversity can be based on gender, race, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, economic level and education etc. Diversification with in a work place as all other constraints has several pros and cons that can be Ateeq Ahmad Abid Page 2

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critically evaluated and discussed. This is outside the scope of this research; hence not much would be done or discussed here. Work place flexibility can greatly support diversification within an organization. Information technology has greatly revolutionized the way of our working. With the advent of knowledge sharing and communication tools, the working environment has greatly change and we see ever increasing benefits that are coming along with these technologies. Flexibility in work place is an important concept that, if properly implemented, has enormous benefits associated with it. It is important for organizations to understand the importance and benefits that come along with the implementation of such a policy. However, it is important to note that proper policy is mandatory for the application of such a scheme and it greatly depends on other variables such as industry and type of work.

2. Problem Statement:
Work place flexibility is a concept that has been recently originated as a methodology to improve performance by reducing cost. However the important question that comes with it is that how much flexibility is required to improve performance and productivity? There are several constraints that are associated with this concept that vary from organization to organization and employee to employee. Organizations are always interested in generating more revenue by reducing cost. If properly implemented, work place flexibility can help in reducing cost and improve productivity. It is can be seen as a methodology to improve performance by giving employees a work-life balance. Recent economic situation of the world has forced organizations to look at ways to cut costs. Also with the ever increasing load on transportation and roads, government is also looking at alternatives. The globalization of the industries as well as interest in international markets the businesses have expanded to large extent and are no more local in their nature. Also, with the suppliers from the international market competing with one another to a large extent the business has truly become globalized in true sense and it can be seen as multi-tiered in nature. The main purpose of this research is to show the reasons, importance and impact of work place flexibility for organization as well as employees. It is a vast topic and involves numerous variables and constraints to be considered. Every organization before taking a decision performs a cost benefit analysis. For an organization to go ahead with a new policy, it is important that the benefit associated with a methodology or approach exceeds the cost associated with it. Workplace flexibility increases employees job satisfaction and motivation and increases organizations productivity. In addition to this, workplace flexibility decreases the employees turnover rate and increases organizations productivity.

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3. Objectives:
Following are the aims and objectives that are expected to be achieved through these results: 1. To analyse the current trends of the work place flexibility and how well does it address the requirements of the employees and organizations. 2. To analyse how work place flexibility affects the employees as well as the organizations. 3. To identify key addressable areas that should be addressed by organizations while devising the policies to address work place flexibility. 4. Recommend few suggestions that are necessary for successful implementation of the policy.

During the course of research the main focus would revolve around these areas. As already stated, the research would try to prove the following hypothesis: Workplace flexibility increases employees job satisfaction and motivation and increases organizations productivity. Workplace flexibility decreases the employees turnover rate and increases organizations productivity.

4. Literature Review:
Employees are main assets of the organization and their productivity level can be enhanced by providing them what they want and expect, there is concept of psychological contract between the employee and the employer which develops at the start of interview and that is the employee expects to have a favourable working conditions and most of the people before joining the organization are mainly concern about the working environment because according to that they need to adjust themselves. Therefore for any organization to excel needs to have flexible working environment so that it becomes easy for the people to adjust and show their productivity because when you are at ease and not any confusions prevailing in the mind then an employee will able to contribute effectively.

4.1.

Different Aspects:

The concept of work place flexibility revolves around three main questions. These are when, where and how? (workplaceflexibility.com, 2011) Let us look into these separately: 4.1.1. When? This question relates to the time constraints of the working environment. There are several variables that can be altered to address these constraints: Ateeq Ahmad Abid Page 4

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Flexible Working Hours:

This relates to the concept of maintaining the same number of hours of work throughout the day but starting and finishing the work by drifting the work on either side of the usual routine. This approach is common in technological and R&D organization. Part Time Work:

The most common type of work time flexibility is the part time work. This relates to the concept of not working the entire stretch of time, rather working a sub set of time. Variable Year Employment:

This approach is situational in nature in which the working hours of the employees are varied depending upon the amount of work. If required, employees can work longer hours and if not they can work for lesser hours. This approach is common in projects, where generally employees have to work longer hours during the closing of the project. Part Year Employment:

Also called purchased leave or 48/52. This means the employee can take longer period of leave. Hence, for example, the employee can have a total of 8 weeks off from work, resulting in 48 working weeks out of 52 weeks in a year. Leave:

These leaves are different from the usual paid leaves and are taken on case to case such as parental leave, study leave, career breaks and cultural leaves etc. 4.1.2. Where? This question relates to the place or space constraints of the working environment. Working from home:

Working from home has now become a widely adopted approach in developed countries as few companies now allow their employees to work from home most of the time or in still many cases once a week. This depends on the nature of work as production staff in a factory cannot work from home and has to be present physically at site. Tasks that require physical intervention and involvement cannot be done while working from home. However, there are still several jobs that do not require physical presence. In that case this is a good approach. Working Remotely:

In many organizations employees have to work from different locations or customer premises. In that case working remotely is an approach that is widely adopted. This approach is frequently used by operation and maintenance staffs and support teams in technological business.

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4.1.3. How? This question relates to different strategies that can be adopted for work place flexibility. Job sharing:

Working together with another employee or individual by dividing task and work load for the same job. For example, two employees working in an organization with one working three days while the other working two days. Job sharing can be done in jobs that do not require high level of knowledge. Phased retirement:

This approach involves dissolving the working time commitment of an employee slowly. It relates to reducing the working hours of the employee gradually near the retirement. Employees can stay on work with lesser hours of commitment. This is also referred to as becoming an alumni. Annualised Hours:

According to this approach the agreement of working is done on number of hours employee has to work for the whole year instead of number of hours to be worked by the employee per week.

4.2.

Culture of the organization:

Culture of the organization is also another aspect that we need to focus before implementing any strategy. The best way to elaborate culture is through the Cultural Web:

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Figure 1: The cultural web; Johnson and Scholes (2002) According to Johnson and Scholes (2002) the culture of an organization can be explained using the tool similar to the metaphor of a web both in theoretical as well as practical meanings. According to Johnsons definition we can conclude that the culture of an organization is more than the mission and vision statement. According to McLean and Marshal (1993, cited in Mullins, 2010) the organization culture can be defined as The collection of traditions, values, policies, beliefs and attitudes that constitute a pervasive context for everything we do and think in an organization. According to Handy (1993) there are four main types of organizational cultures: 1. Power culture: Culture is defined based on the central power source and the influence occurs on entire organization. 2. Role Culture: It is defined by bureaucracy and works by logic and rationality. 3. Task Culture: As the name suggest its project and job oriented. 4. Person Culture: Individuals are the central focus and the culture is developed to facilitate the individuals. Culture is a vital factor in work place flexibility. Hence it is crucial to consider not only the culture of the organization but also the factors that play key role in defining the culture.

5. Methodology
Following methodologies will be adopted for the course of this research and dissertation.

5.1.

Background Study and Data Gathering:

The first step for this research thesis will be the background study. This will lay the foundation for future steps to come. In background study, basics of work place flexibility will be covered. Secondly, data gathering will be done through internet, books and case studies. This will provide as a sound base on which the entire research can be based.

5.2.

Establish Base Case:

The next step after gathering the required data is to perform a case study from diverse market units and organizations. Different literatures will be mapped and compared for better understanding and identification of key variables and constraints that play vital role in the policies of work place flexibility. Methods and means of flexibility will be researched with analysis of their importance and impact.

5.3.

Survey and interviews:

The next phase will be to conduct surveys and interviews. Both the elements are very important as they will help in segregation of data and understanding of facts and figures. Initially surveys will be done with different distinct market elements to identify the usage and constraints that

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exists. This will help in getting a clear picture as to where does the organization of subject stand along with help in identifying key addressable areas and areas of focus.

5.4.

Analysis and end results:

The last step of this research will be to perform the analysis of the data gathered. This analysis will be based entirely on the data that would be collected form the above steps. During this analysis data will be segregated. Further analysis will be done on these distinct segments. Recommendations will be based on these results that will be able to highlight key addressable areas. Based on this analysis a report will be formulated that will enable to formulate their strategy for the future. Secondly, it will also provide an insight to organizations how descriptive their policies are in this context.

6. Utilization of research
Results obtained from the research and recommendations developed thereafter, will be useful for organizations to align their future strategies. This will enable them to take a look at an alternative that can be used. This alternative will however need a cost-benefit analysis to be conducted for the organization based on their goals and objectives. Also, another important aspect of the strategy would be the needs analysis that should be conducted by the organization to verify how well does the approach fit in the overall organizational strategy.

This is a very weak proposal. Not clear what your research questions are and what your methodology is? Not specific? Whilst the objectives sounds fine, they are not at all related to the research questions and methodology? You need to state clearly what your research questions are and discuss all the methods in more detail providing sufficient information and showing awareness of methological issues. What do you mean by survey? How many people will be surveyed? Where? How many people will be interviewed? Where? The indivative lit review is not acceptable either. Very sketchy and textbook based. Sections and even paragaphs do not flow on logically from one another. You need to spend more time reworking this proposal before formally submitting it for marking.

References:
Referencing done is based on Harvard Referencing format. Guidelines for the format have been acquired from Anglia Ruskin University online help (http://libweb.anglia.ac.uk/referencing/harvard.htm). 1. Vroom, V. H., 1964, Work and Motivation, New York: Wiley 2. Wendelien Van Eerde, W. V. and Thierry, H., 1996, Vroom's Expectancy Models and WorkRelated Criteria: A Meta-Analysis, Journal of Applied Psychology, pg 576 Ateeq Ahmad Abid Page 8

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3. Marshall, J. and McLean, A., 1993, Intervening with cultures, working paper, University of Bath 4. Mullins, L. J., 2010, Management and Organisational Behaviour, 9th Edition, Essex: Financial Times Prentice Hall. 5. Johnson, G. and Scholes, K., 2002, Exploring corporate strategy, 6th Edition, Prentice Hall 6. 7. Workplaceflexibility.com, 2011, What is work place flexibility?[online], Available at: http://www.workplaceflexibility.com.au/what_is_workplace_flexibility.html [Accessed: 17th November, 2011] 8. Emory; Work Life Resource Centre, 2009, What is workplace flexibility? [online], Available at: http://www.worklife.emory.edu/workplaceflexibility/quickguides/whatis.html [Accessed: th 15 November, 2011]

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