Work place flexibility refers to when, where and how people work. Its main objective is increasing a vital part of creating an effective organization. It is about an employee and an employer creating alternatives to when, where and how an individual would perform his or her tasks in order to improve and meet individual and business needs. There are several ways, which call for flexibility in the work places. Flexibility enables both the individual and business needs to be met through various measures, such as making changes to time, location and manner, in which an employee works. Both employees and employers should mutually benefit and achieve maximum results. The flexible work practices in time can be through creating flexible working hours, conducting part-time work, variable year employment, part year employment and taking of personal leave from the job. Flexibility based on location implies that an individual is allowed to work in any place, such as working from home, meaning working away from the main office. On the other hand, flexibility based on how people work can be classified into job sharing, phased retirement and annualized hours. According to Christensen (2011) the flexibility of women in the work place is a social and structural issue. She points some of the challenges that women face in the work place as hindrances to women flexibility.
History depicts that men are the breadwinners in the family, but there is a current trend that women are either becoming breadwinners in the family or the co-breadwinners or even taking the responsibility of being the breadwinner (Whitehead, 2011). About every four out of ten women in the United States are breadwinners, and almost two thirds are co-breadwinners. Despite this, women have to care about their family responsibilities and now the work responsibilities; and hence, Christensen calls for flexibility of women in work places to suit their individual needs. Although gender discrimination in the work place is gradually decreasing women, especially those endowed with family responsibilities, continue to face work-life balance challenges, promotions and advancement in their careers. Work place flexibility would, therefore, be a critical point for a woman to consider in either to leave or to stay in the workforce. In managing, both work and home responsibilities would also be stressing to a woman. The women flexibility in the work place has established a platform, where it would provide an opportunity for a woman to manage both her family and job. Other benefits that a woman is likely to gain as a result of flexibility include: a decrease in travelling time and cost, greater job satisfaction and an ability to remain in the workforce for a long period of time. In addition, flexibility would increase a sense of control leading to an increased sense of wellbeing. An employee would be in a position to respect, loyalty and trust towards his or her employer. Flexibility would be able to create and boast one’s morale in performing his or her tasks.
History depicts some of the ways how many individuals have perceived women flexibility. Initially, it was the role of men to work and act as the breadwinner of a family; with increasing entrance of women in jobs nowadays some females have decided to help men in providing for the needs of their family. This has attributed that the women flexibility in order to manage both the family and work places has to be sought, though not all employers opt for it. The mothers, who have children, should be granted an opportunity to work from their homes, so as to enable them to carry on with their family roles. Cultural norms and practices within different organizations prevent women from taking those responsibilities. Most of the jobs in the organization are designed for men and they do not cater for the women, and the flexibility of a woman is not even considered. The women advanced entry into the jobs came later; and therefore, the organizations have not yet fully advocated for females’ entry into jobs and hence, the flexibility is adversely affected. Most people still believe in physical appearance of employees within the work places. They do not value virtual workplaces and this prevents women from enjoying the flexibility of working from their homes. The majority of employers believe that letting employees to work from their homes may lead to failure to accomplish tasks within the projected period. This, in turn, leads to restricting of flexibility amongst women. Most women are working in the low level jobs, such as clerical workers, which require one to be in the office in order to perform the tasks. These jobs are difficult, especially if one wants to take a leave and thus, inhibit flexibility amongst women. The educational level of women is inadequate, since the cultural norms prevent the girl child from attending school, and the education provided cannot enable one to be promoted to the higher ranks within the organization. According to Whitehead and Katherine (2011), educational systems that use gender, race and class ratio contribute to the lack of skills that are required in occupations. They also make the disadvantaged groups to low-wage jobs; hence, preventing their advancement to the high levels.
Employers tend to ignore the benefits of flexibility; though, they are the main gainers of it. Some of these benefits include attraction of more skilled and motivated employees. The employers are able to keep skilled and motivated employees, thereby reducing cost in terms of retaining knowledge, maintaining customer relationships, advertising and administration cost. The employer would increase employee satisfaction and create conducive working environment with increasing teamwork amongst employees, sharing of knowledge and collaboration; this would lead to increase in the output. Therefore, the employer should allow employees to have the flexibility based in location, time and the way the tasks are performed for improvement of the employees.
Women are increasingly participating in the work force and therefore, the future of women in the workplace looks bright. According to Fogel (2003) as more women are added to the labor force, their share will approach that of men. He also reported that in 2008, women would make up about 48 percent of the labor force and men 52 percent correspondingly. It also indicated that in 1988, the respective shares were 45 and 55 percent. This shows that this trend would increase, and more women would be involved in the job place. This is because some restrictions, which prevented women from advancing, have been reduced. People and especially employers have begun to appreciate the role that women play in society both in the work place and family life issues. Flexibility in the work place, especially for women, has also been embraced and this has led to attracting women to the work places. The government of the US has created various rules and laws that eradicate any forms of discrimination in the workplace and any person found with such cases is fined. The industrial laws have been made to ensure that women are provided with the flexible working conditions and are able to balance both work place and family issues. The laws that call for flexibility enable people to enjoy doing their jobs.
The women compensations are being ammonized with those of men in the same group and this motivates them to work extra hard. Promotions within the jobs are also becoming fair, and people have tried to eliminate the burden that the top level management jobs are for men. This, in turn, has led to increasing women participation in the workplace. The employers have been challenged to provide family friendly solutions to enable working people, who need flexibility for children care and elderly care, by offering solutions such as job sharing, part-time employment opportunities and so on. This attracts women in the work place and makes them to feel free to join the workplace leading to an increasing number of women among the working individuals. The degree, to which women are increasing in joining workforce, is unavoidable, and employers should be prepared for such changes of offering flexibility in the work place. This shows that in the next ten years women would fill the most jobs in many organizations, and gender discrimination would be a thing of the past.
Flexibility in workplace is therefore, a guiding principle, which should be embraced by all individuals if they want to achieve maximum mutual benefits from each other. The new generation is not able to work properly without certain changes in work organizations, since lack of flexibility may demotivate employees. Therefore, employers should encourage flexibility in the workplace. The employers embracing flexibility would lead to attracting the employees and retaining the existing ones, which is one of the goals and objectives of many organizations. The employer would therefore, be in a position to attract this 21st generation employees, who are more talented and fast in implementing organizational plans.