Every now and again, you see articles – both opinion based as well as research based – on how flexible work arrangements are becoming prevalent, or how they are being used to engage the diverse workforce in a better way. Most of that is true. I say most because usually these articles cover the positive aspects of flexi work options, and project it as the biggest trend ever since technological disruption.
But that’s just one side of the story – there is another not-so-positive aspects of flexi working, which is not really written about
The truth is that when you choose to ask for a flexi work option, organizations usually position is as a magnanimous provision from their end, which puts the woman on the back-foot (and when you get someone on the back-foot, you can get a lot more work done). So, while you may have taken that decision to be able to create a work-life balance, flexi option can lead to a cut in compensations, but not in the workload. Not quite the work-life balance you were looking for.
In India, the fact that work hours and pay need to be inter-linked is not easily accepted. If you are working from home, you end up getting more on your place, because you seem to have traded that for flexible hours. This should not be the case.
So, when you ask for flexible work options and decide on how much time you will spend on your work – remember that organizations are quick to adjust the pay, but the work reduction is not proportionate. You still tend to get the same level of work as you did, and at some stage it will not make economic sense to have chosen to work in a flexible arrangement at all.
However, this is not as difficult to overcome, as it seems to be, provided you set down certain guidelines as you start exploring such options.
- Respect and value your own time and expertise – Make sure that you have clarity of what your time and expertise is worth. And respect that. When you choose a flexible work arrangement you should be able to identify the monetary cost of the effort that will be involved at your end, and communicate the same.
- Define account-abilities and deliverables clearly – There are challenges when the account-abilities and deliverables are not clearly defined. So, make sure to define these as clearly as possible so that there is no or limited scope for miscommunication of what is expected from you.
- Be realistic in your commitments – Very often the work seems the same despite the lower level of pay, in a flexi option because of over-commitment of what one can actually deliver within that time-frame. We tend to do that in order to demonstrate that we are able to manage the same levels of work within a lesser time period, so that we are able to retain our roles.
- Stick to a routine and be professional when you choose a flexi option – When you choose a flexible work option, you need to make sure that you have defined the hours you will be spending on work in a clear and professional manner. It might be difficult to follow it in a rigorous manner, but try to stick to a routine as much as possible.
- Push back – Don’t be afraid to say no if you feel there’s too much coming your way. Women tend to take on the load because they are masters at feeling guilt, and most organizations are masters at exploiting that guilt. If it’s too much, just say it.
These are just some pointers which may help you to possibly close the gap that arises due to a variety of reasons, between the amount of work you are putting in and the pay related to it.
By Simran Oberoi
Simran Oberoi is an independent HR Consultant in Bangalore, with HR Advisory, Knowledge Development and Research expertise of over 13 years, in Rewards & Compensation, Diversity & Inclusion, Talent Development, HR & Social Media. She has worked with consulting firms like Hay Group, Aon Hewitt and PricewaterhouseCoopers in the past, in India as well as Asia-Pacific leadership roles. Simran is also a keen baker – you can find her recipes at https://ovenderfulhealthybaking.wordpress.com/