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Advantages and disadvantages of flexible work for employers

In the following project and in accordance with the bibliography I have been used, I will describe and analyze the flexibility and work. More specifically, I refer to history and the multidimensional concept. Then I will analyze the forms of flexible work, and I will present the advantages and disadvantages for employees and employers. Finally, I will refer how the flexibility is carried out in Europe and Greece and I will present my own conclusions.

INTRODUCTION

The current era is characterized by its fast pace of life, changes in technology and increased unemployment. All these contribute to creating a more complex and competitive work environment. In this environment, has been created the most popular trend, the flexibility of working, which interacting with the labor market, because more and more people choose it. As for employees, flexible working patterns is a way to reorganize their personal life, have more free time, have limited stress and poor performance and you can get faster the desired experience. As for employers, the flexibility it gives them the opportunity to reduce costs and make them more competitive. Nowadays, the flexibility of employment has taken various forms, with part-time and work at home be the most prevalent.

HISTORY

The times we have came so far characterized as times of great changes in the labor market. The 18th century was marked by the industrial revolution, which profoundly affected the working conditions and life, since there was a long manual work in factories. Passing the 20th century industrial relations took a different turn, because of technological and social factors, such as the rapid evolution of technology worldwide. (Rifkin, 1996)

Moreover, the fact that more and more women left their traditional role, which was in the house and worked was a phenomenon particularly noticeable from 1970 and after. At the same time unemployment was a global problem, since it increases rapidly due to the fuel crisis. Employees, because of the new patterns of life and long hours work, were trying to find ways to balance work and personal life. All above, together with the fact that companies were trying to find new ways to reduce costs, contributed to the emergence of flexible working forms. (Layard et al, 1991, Lake, 2009)

In the 80s and 90s were two basic models of flexibility in Europe, the Swedish model and the British. Most European countries applied the Swedish model or quality model, while the Mediterranean countries like Spain and Greece applied primarily model of illegal flexibility. (Κουζής, 2001)

Today, in Greece the wage model ranges still in illegality and backward rates, as dominates the culture of low cost without the use of technology and upgrading of workers. (Κουζής, 2001, Ινστιτούτο Εργασίας Γ.Σ.Ε.Ε, 2010)

Close the end of 90, and in particular the 1999, the 10% of the workforce in Europe is unemployed. More specifically in Spain, the unemployment was 18.8%, in Italy 12.2% and 11.7% in Greece while in the Netherlands only 4% were unemployed. At this time, 40% of the workforce employed with some form of flexible work. Specifically, 17.4% in Europe were using part-time jobs, with the main representatives in Netherlands, with 38.8% and in UK with 24.9%., while 12.8% use temporary work, like in Spain with 32%. It is worth noting that women use more flexible forms of employment with a rate of 31.8% compared with 5.9% of men. (Κουζής, 2001)

At the decade of the 90s, European Union remained not idly with the phenomenon of unemployment and the issue of employment. In 1994 in the European Council was discussed the promotion of employment as one of the most important issues and entered some objectives. These objectives became known as the ''Essen Strategy'', which was reforming its policies on global employment. Two years later, was established the European Employment Strategy by the Treaty of Amsterdam. Ensuring made from the Luxembourg 'Jobs summit'. The thematic priorities agreed at the meeting were grouped into four pillars, entrepreneurship, employability, adaptability and equal opportunities. The contents of adaptability consisted from the modernization of work organization, from flexibility of working and from the mobilization of state aid policies on upgrading the labour force. (Παναγόπουλος, 2009a)

Greece is characterized by flexible forms of work due to the utilization by illegal or legal form, from a large percentage of employees. Particular increase in illegal flexibility had from early 90 ', since at that time there was a large wave of immigrants in Greece. Increasing the lawlessness contributed also the reduced inspections by the competent institutions of the inspection labor. More general, the 90 was not the proper organization and the suitable monitoring by state. (Κουζής, 2001)

According to Παπαλεξανδρή and Μπουραντάς (2003) in the private sector in Greece 79% of employees have permanent and stable job. A further 12% covered by seasonal and casual work and part-time Jobs is covered by 8.7%.

More specifically, women and young people are engaged mostly in seasonal and casual employment, which finds ground in hotels, building industry and retail market. In the services sector, particularly in the public sector and DECO, is located part-time for coverage seasonal needs. (Παπαλεξανδρή και Μπουραντάς, 2003)

According to the newspaper Kathimerini, in 2010 there were 8,256 more contract changes from full to a flexible form, noting upward course for labor market flexibility. (Κοψίνη, 2011)

DEFINISION

As long as the concept of flexibility in the labor market there are many opinions and theories about the definition, which makes it a multidimensional concept. Generally, the term flexibility as industrial relations, referring to agreements made ​​between employer and employee and which concern working hours, location, employment tasks and wages on a more flexible framework. One main reason may become such an agreement is, from the side of the employer, to reduce costs and better organization of resources according with the demand and from the employee side the better organization of his personal life. So, flexibility allows covering the needs of a business and balancing work and personal life of a worker. (Παπαλεξανδρή και Μπουραντάς, 2003, Flexibility.co.uk, 2009)

More detail from the side of the governments, flexible work supported strongly since they reduce unemployment and increase employment.  For employers, flexibility means reducing operating costs, increase competitiveness and higher profits. Furthermore, the increase in unemployment, the fast rates of life and financial difficulties, forcing many employees withstand with the option of flexible work. Furthermore, I could say that flexibility is the ability of a company or an employee to be flexible to the changing environment and be adapted according to developments. (Παπαλεξανδρή και Μπουραντάς, 2003)

TYPES

The main types of flexibility are consisting of the hours, the place and the employment contract and the flexibility to fees, the duties and the use of outsourcing. Typically in relation to these distinguished the following models of flexibility are: numerical, temporal, functional, financial, distancing and location flexibility. (Παπαλεξανδρή και Μπουραντάς, 2003, Κουζής, 2001, Παναγόπουλος, 2011b)

More specifically, the rapid development of technology and the opportunities that offered have given an opportunity for those who choose flexible working to have the possibility to work outside of the company. This is achieved by working at home or by telephone or by other ways and it called Location flexibility. In work at home is included the tele-working, where employees are able to use communication technology to deliver a job via the computer and the internet. Working at home is more widespread, especially in the United Kingdom, since according to a survey of Flexibility.co.uk 1 to 8 working at home, while 20% of the workforce works at least three days a week at home. Working at home is preferred by employers and employees to reduce travel costs and increase the space in company. Another way to work with this type is the 'hot desking', where the employee does not have its own space but continually moved elsewhere within the company, according to his duties. (Lake,2009, Παπαλεξανδρή και Μπουραντάς, 2003, Παναγόπουλος, 2011b, Flexibility.co.uk, 2009a)

Another type of flexibility is flexibility in hours or temporal flexibility, which someone can choose reduced working hours, which is below than eight hours, or choose night work, flexible hours and working on Sundays and the Holidays. From the above, the most known type of flexible job is part time. This type is preferred by people who want to combine two jobs, or people who have limited free time. (Flexibility.co.uk, 2009a, Lake, 2009, Παπαλεξανδρή και Μπουραντάς, 2003, Παναγόπουλος, 2011b)

The flexible hours regards a fixed quota of hours of work. In this case, the employee decides along with the employer, about how many hours he will work each day and on condition that the project will be finished by the deadline assigned to it. (Flexibility.co.uk, 2009a, Lake, 2009, Παναγόπουλος, 2011b)

Another type of flexible hours is the annualized hours, where the employee agrees with an employer's total annual working hours, which will vary according to the responsibilities that will assigned to him/her every time. Additionally, an employee may choose zero hours contracts, with which he/she is standby and he/she will work whenever employer needs him or whenever there is a job vacancy. In this type are included substitutes doctors, nurses and teachers. (Flexibility.co.uk, 2009a, Lake, 2009, Παναγόπουλος, 2011b)

An innovation of enterprises to monitor whether employees comply with their working hours is the positioning of special machines, where an employee with a special card certifying the arrival and leaving from the workplace. (Lake, 2009)

The contracts of employment to a typical full-time called indefinite. But, there are flexible work contracts, which may take the form of temporal duration and consider employee who work temporary or occasional or with annual contract hours. This flexible form among in the Numerical flexibility or flexible contracts and in general terms change the labor laws in a more favorable framework for employers since given to them the opportunity to dismiss the employee with fewer penalties. Moreover, it gives to employer the ability to increase and decrease the number of workforce whenever it needs. Also, in this form are included agency work and zero hours working. (Marchington and Parker, 1990, Παπαλεξανδρή και Μπουραντάς, 2003, Παναγόπουλος, 2011b, Κουζής, 2001, Flexibility.co.uk, 2009a)

The fourth form of work flexibility is the flexibility in the salaries, which called financial flexibility. In this form the system of payment of the employee deflective from the traditional in which is include the minimum salaries. In it position was placed the system of remuneration which based on performance and productivity of the worker and also by business performance. In the first case the employee is evaluated individually or collectively for his performance, by encouraging for higher performance in order to get higher pay. In the second case, the remuneration of workers depends on profits or losses of the company.

(Παπαλεξανδρή και Μπουραντάς, 2003, Κουζής, 2001)

One of the most important forms of flexibility is the flexibility of tasks or the Functional flexibility, whose purpose is to redefine the duties of employees in a more flexible and organizationally framework, giving them the opportunity of further education (multi-skilling). In this way, employees can undertake a wider range of tasks and reduce the time to make a lot of works. (Marchington and Parker, 1990, Παπαλεξανδρή και Μπουραντάς, 2003, Παναγόπουλος, 2011b)

The latest model of flexibility is called distancing and it refers to flexible partnerships with third parties, as some other agency (outsourcing). Specifically, regards the flexibility that may have a company in order to entrust tasks to outside persons or to other organizations with purpose of reducing the direct employees and saving money. In this case, employers use contractors such as cleaning companies, call center services and transport operators. (Marchington and Parker, 1990)

ADVANTAGES-DISADVANTAGES

Flexible work can offer many positive features and benefits to employees in social, economic, professional and personal level. An important contribution is the elimination of unemployment, since is given the opportunity to work directly on a wider range of people. Also important is the contribution at the level of health to workers, since according to a study published in Flexibility.co.uk. Flexible forms of work can reduce the risk of heart disease or other diseases, such as stress. (Flexibility.co.uk, 2009b, Lake, 2009)

According to a survey, which took place by The work foundation, in a sample of five hundred employees, 69% of them stated that they want to spend more time with their family, particularly those who working in full time. This feature could be given by a flexible form of employment such as part-time work, since the worker may be better organizing his time and thus the work-life balance. Also, the employee may be receive more job satisfaction as he/she can have, to a degree, the choice of working conditions and the choice of people who will work with them. Finally, flexibility in employment may be reducing the cost of transport reduce stress factors and help to avoid traffic. (Jones, 2006, Lake, 2009)

On the other hand, the flexibility of employment may hold some risks for workers. One example is the sense of isolation, if the employee works outside the office and without other colleagues. As a result, the worker may feel lonely and socially isolated. Furthermore, someone who works outside the office has to cover the problem of the very good organization and discipline, without being pushing by the necessary pressure that will assist for better focus on achieving the goals. Another problem that needs to cover the employee is to provide a suitable workspace at home or in another place and the problem of high communication costs. (Businesslink.gov.uk, 2011, Lake, 2009)

In most cases, the salary of a worker is determined by the total hours of working. In a set of flexible employment may be is considerably smaller than the standard, i.e. over eight hours. In this case, the employee will earn less than the basic salary, while has to cover the problem of stability of his/her position, because employers have the power of more ''easy'' redundancy. For this reason, many argue that employers are benefiting at the expense of workers and exploit them. Additionally, work outside the Office may be hiding the risk of information security that uses a worker, as there is no one to supervise. The lack of the presence of such a person grows the communication problem may have the company with the employee, such as wasting time for explanation queries. (Businesslink.gov.uk, 2011, Lake, 2009)

Flexibility in work brings many advantages for employers in the business environment. One of the most important is reduce the cost for companies that achieved with the lowest salaries, by saving energy and space and also with non-abused employee. As regards the latter, it is worth noting that flexibility helps companies to use workers for a particular work, where there is a need in order to properly exploit the human factor. (Actnow, 2011, Friedman, 2011)

Working at home retains and attracts employees, while increasing participation and morale. The employee may feel more comfortable and stress free when working flexibly, positively influencing the efficiency and productivity of the company. Moreover, there is a decrease in turnover, absenteeism and sick days by improving the timing of the objectives set by the company. (Actnow, 2011, Friedman, 2011)

Another positive effect for companies is most success in attracting young workers with over skills and knowledge than the current employees. This succeeded because of current lifestyles that keep pace with new models of flexible work, which is usually the first choice by young workers. (Actnow, 2011, Friedman, 2011)

By achieving of above, companies managed to increase customer satisfaction and give a friendlier and sensitive picture within the meaning that employers take regard the balancing between work and family life. (Friedman, 2011)

Finally, the choice of flexible models from their employers may create some issues. One disadvantage is that the company cannot continuously monitor the employee and how they work, creating a risk of the result of the project which must be implemented. Additionally, the flexibility of the employee can adversely affect the absences of the firm or even push into more frequent resignations, which automatically mean increasing costs for finding new staff. (Businesslink.gov.uk, 2011, Lake, 2009)

In conclusion, flexible forms of work will be discussed and will significantly affect industrial relations and working environment in the future, both in Europe and especially in Greece. The positive elements are enough for employees and their employers, but I think it should be rational use in forms, from the side both of them because there are many hidden dangers. Of course, evidence has shown that although it used by governments, such as Greece, to reduce unemployment, there is increasing on unemployment. So, someone will ask why while flexibility has many advantages for employees, although not all countries are affected positive? Finally, I believe that it will be found and others modes of flexible work, since history has shown us that technology never stops to evolve.


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