Why Are There So Many Variations To Flex Work?

Patricea Pop

10 minutes read

How is it that even though you work remotely in the same organization under the same conditions, culture, policies, and systems, the level of flexibility and freedom that you have is so much different from that of another colleague?

It should come as no surprise that every person has a different experience at work that is difficult to compare, but this is especially true for those who work remotely.

Although organizations that have adopted this way of working have developed an organizational-wide framework, this experience is quite complex for a variety of reasons.

First of all, each country has its own set of regulations about how remote work is to be done. Any organization must, of course, consider the legal system, culture, and mentality of the country, as well as the labor market trends that are unique to that region. This explains why in one country employees have more flexibility while others have slightly different, sometimes even more rigid rules to follow. Moreover, the creation of a legal framework governing telework is a new domain and it is constantly changing. Companies and their employees have to align and adapt to the changes, adjustments, and shifts imposed by current legislation, making it even more difficult to create a uniform remote experience within the same company.

Second, differences also occur from one department to another. This is why, within the same company, there are departments that have 100% remote teams, others that take more of a hybrid approach, and some for which presence in the office is mandatory. As not every job can be done remotely within large companies, it is hard to put a remote stamp on a large organization, as it can create expectations that are hard to meet.

Third, the manager sets the tone. Nothing new, really, but for remote working the attitude, the level of flexibility, the degree of monitoring a manager needs, the level of trust in their own team as well as the culture they come from, requires a style of working and collaboration that can be difficult to sustain and adopt remotely.

Even when the company proposes a set of rules, tools, and guidelines for remote working, not all managers adopt them to the same extent. Here we can talk about instruments that allow asynchronous communication, collaboration, and/or attendance for example, but also about the small ‘details’ that make a difference, such as a requirement to have the video camera on in all meetings.

Another aspect that is not at all a detail for companies and managers adopting this working style is the implementation of employee monitoring software, a market that has exploded with the pandemic and the shift to working from home. While employee monitoring is nothing new, the level it reaches often becomes uncomfortable for very many employees. Again, the decision to implement such a tool is often up to the manager and, even within a larger structure, not all subordinate teams are monitored in the same way.

The same goes for recruitment strategy: while some managers recruit locally even though the job is 100% remote, others are open to working with teams of employees who can work from anywhere in a country.

In conclusion, remote working is not a one-size-fits-all experience and, in many ways, it would be utopian to think that we can get there.

In many cases, the differences in the implementation of the concept of remote work generate a number of challenges related to expectations and needs that employees have which often remain unmet. As a result, a remote job can be perceived by some employees as rigid, with too many rules, too much monitoring, too many restrictions, and limited freedoms for some and flexible enough for others.

Under these circumstances, it becomes difficult for a candidate to assess the extent to which a remote job is what they want. Therefore, candidates have no choice but to ask the right questions and be flexible in order to adapt to the different degrees of autonomy and control imposed by each manager, department, and country.

Under these circumstances, it becomes difficult for a candidate to assess the extent to which a remote job is what they want. Therefore, candidates have no choice but to ask the right questions and be flexible in order to adapt to the different degrees of autonomy and control imposed by each manager, department, and country.

Remote working is still a complex concept with many facets, many of which remain unexplored. Although they may seem like small details, in day-to-day work, every aspect makes a difference. The new way of working brings many benefits and just as many challenges, which we should not underestimate. Many employees still feel lonely and isolated, we still talk about burnout, lack of trust and communication, and the need for supervision.

All this confirms that remote working is not for everyone and it can’t be implemented anytime, anywhere, and in any sector. For employees, remote working is about flexibility, freedom, and autonomy. For many employers, it is about cost efficiency and productivity. The balance between control and freedom is a hard one to strike and the variety the work-from-home offers is something we need in the labor market. And it reminds us of how important it is to find the right person for the right style of work.

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Written by Patricea Pop


It is said that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a simple step and mine started a few summers ago when I wanted to do something for myself, so I enrolled in a coaching programme. This gave me the chance to look at myself from a different perspective: little did I know that it would take me to a different career path, that of being a coach.

After more than 12 years in the corporate world which taught me many lessons and several years of preparation for my new role, I now support people in business to improve their self leadership skills. I think leadership is an inside job and it is part soul searching, part strategy and part relationship skills.

I love writing about work and organizations because it is the place where we invest heavily our time and energy and we often end up feeling stressed, trapped and dissatisfied. My strength relies on my resilience, critical thinking and intuition and I believe it is an honour to accompany someone on their inner journey.

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