Generally speaking, flexible working methods have the potential to benefit competitiveness, productivity and working conditions. To make the most of these benefits requires re-organisation in business structure and practise (C. Selby, F. Wilson 2001). Also, it has been highlighted that adopting flexible working helps companies to increase productivity and improve competitiveness and market access by better use of personnel and skills.

Furthermore, flexible working can also allow companies to organise staff activities for benefit of reduced costs due to supplying fewer business trips and less office and parking space. Some businesses can reduce office costs by using freelancers to explore new work areas is a way of developing new lines of work safely, while retaining the option of having people work in house later if the new project line tasks off. Some businesses use a ‘hot-desking’ approach where there are fewer office spaces than workers, but the workers attend the office at different times and so they can share offices and other resources.

In addition, cording to various studies, it is report by Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety (CCOHS) in 2002 that greater the flexible working enable to increased job satisfaction, energy, creativity and ability to handle stress. Also, employees work flexibly would decrease the incidence of disease, in this case, organisations adopt flexible working is the way to protect and benefit employees’ health. What challenges do managers face with hit this trend in flexible working?

Rebecca Clake, CIPD organisation and resourcing adviser, said: “The real challenge for employers is how to implement and operate flexible working in practice, in order to create the positive culture and secure the improved performance they desire. ” in this case the implementation can be counted as a challenge for manager face with this upward trend in Flexible working. In addition, Clake also claimed that operational pressures are the most significant constraint for organisations when they are implementing flexible working.

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This was followed by concerns over customer service requirements suggesting there are concerns about the potential negative impact flexible working may have on business delivery. However, it is reported that 45% of respondents who are have offered flexible working reported a positive impact on productivity. Also, Clake added that the main challenges behind making flexible working a reality were management attitudes and skills. For the managers, they need to take the lead, by developing new working and training arrangements to suit the needs of all staff.

Benefits s of using flexibility in Microsoft Company It has noted by Richard in 2004 that in the literature, flexibility enables employers to match product and service demand with labour supply more closely, moreover, he added that flexible working may also be able more easily to attract and retain labour supply, as employees may achieve a more satisfactory ‘work-life balance’. Microsoft Company, as the biggest IT organisation over the world, it do more than other organisations in providing employees with the right tools and environment at work and at home to help them realise their potential.

Indeed, the company manages flexible programs that help employees manage their own balance between work and personal life; it is found that a flexible working policy has been adopted by Microsoft, which includes: formal or informal arrangements, permanent or temporary arrangements, flexible hours, flexitimes, term-time working, change in location at work and so on. For example, the employees may choose to start between 7:30 and 9:30AM, and finish between 3:30 and 5:30 PM. This arrangement establishes that core hours are between 9:30AM and 5:30PM when all employees will be at home.

The flexible working arrangements are accessible to all employees on the basis of any motivation. Furthermore, flexible working at Microsoft appeals to a broad range of employees, not just those with caring responsibilities. It is believed that the benefits to Microsoft doing flexible working arrangement enables reduced its fixed costs and increased productivity and reduces absence and labour turnover. Moreover, Selby and Wilson think flexibility helps Microsoft to reduce wasted commuting hours, for example, some employees free up time by not travelling to work, while others work in transit.

The optimum solution is a matter is preference and practical application. Some employees utilise the time spent travelling to work and then use flexitime to reduce time spent at the office. Advantages of using flexibility for the employees For the Microsoft employees, flexible working enables them to reconcile work and domestic demands. Flexible working offering employees less tiredness, because flexible working patterns can help individual employees in balancing the demands of earning a living and looking after a family (Mike, E and Sue, H. 1998).

in this case, employees would get greater job satisfaction and so that the working motivation will be improved. Furthermore, Microsoft doing flexible working arrangement is benefit to employees’ health due to less pressure and tiredness. problems of using flexibility for the Microsoft Company As Richard states, flexibility can be a problematic process for management in term of employee relations. In the case of Microsoft, many senior manages chose to introduce specific flexibility initiatives by agreement at the highest level of negotiation available.

Designed to minimise opposition from employee, it is believed that this strategy could detract for the practicalities of implementation and local management understanding. Destandardisation as a way to adapt flexibly to local circumstances (for example, customer demand) poses problems where managers at local level are not sufficiently trained, such as lack management competences, do not catch the cultural change required, or see their competences curtailed.

Furthermore, Mike and Sue highlighted the main disadvantages for employers associated with flexible working patters are increased training costs, because flexible working need more part-time employees, company has to spend more on training program. Also, more complex administration might be a disadvantage and this is a challenge for employers. In addition, although more and more new technologies can be used to communicate by employees, due to fewer workers work out of office, it is not easy to communicate when meet some problems. Issues of using flexibility for the employees

However, employees who are offered flexible working potentially have to contend with lower incomes, less access to training and promotion and other issues, said Brewster and Hegewisch. In addition, Gadrey noted that the issues have a strong gender dimension, since they are related to the interface between paid and domestic. In Microsoft case, there are negative implications for their employees by doing flexible working, such as increased job insecurity. Some employees are afraid lose their job. One reason of job insecurity might be there is no fixed workspace and time for them.

Moreover, reduced career development opportunities and increase stress are also the issues for employees to be offered flexible working. Conclusion There is strong evidences to prove more and more employees and organisations seeking flexibility in the labour market, and they believed flexible working would bring lots of benefit for them, such as reduce the fixed costs and work-life balance, however, according to the case study relates to Microsoft company, it is found that, flexible working might bring some issues to both employers and employees whilst lots of benefits could be gained.

For example, it increase employees’ job insecurity and decrease training opportunities. On the other hands, the trends of using flexible working is continuing increase in currently labour market, it also is a challenge for employers, they need to think how to develop new working and training arrangements to suit the needs of labour market and customers.


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