Modern working – flexibility or rigidity – or not imposing your stuff on others.

Chwarae Teg has been at the forefront of thinking in relation to modern working practices and in particular flexible working and work-life balance for many years.

Recently, we’ve been developing our knowledge about what human beings need to do their best for their employer – the physical environment, technological support and most importantly, the relationship between employer and employee.

Something I think I’ve observed is how different approaches seem to reflect the culture of the sector or the personality of the leader of the organisation – this probably falls into the blindingly obvious category!

I’ve had interesting conversations with people who work in caring fields who feel that being a good employer is about looking after their staff.

All good – but when does that become disabling or undermining?

We’re all adults and we all need support and challenge to be good at what we do. Being overly caring can undermine confidence and unintentionally replace a culture of command and control into with one of parent and child.

I’ve also come across leaders who like a lot of structure in their lives so introduce quite strict rules for the organisation along similar lines.
Again, well-intentioned but in this case, what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another.

I’ve read a lot of well-respected business advisors say that banning emails after a certain time is a good thing.

In Germany I believe they are introducing laws to achieve this.

I think this is coming from a good place but I’m not convinced it’s the right way to help people give of their best. Some people aren’t good at the 9 to 5 and some have lives that don’t fit well with it – why make it harder for them to deliver for you?

I think a modern work place is one that makes the most of the present and enables everyone to give of their best within today’s context. We employ adults.


Unlike in the industrial age where people were employed as “hands” we want to make full use of their brains – their ideas and their passion.


Science has shown us that we are individuals but that we are motivated by similar things – the ability to get on with the job in our way, to get better at it and to feel that we are making a useful contribution to something bigger than us.

We have different interests and demands – families aren’t uniform and neither are our lives. We can embrace this by using technology well. If we want to work 9 to 5, great – if we work better earlier or later – why not?

We need to re-think the contract between employer and employee as a partnership of equals focused on achieving a shared goal.

As an employee I want to be excited about the larger goal I’m contributing to. I need to understand what you want from me so that I can deliver it.

I want you to let me get on with it and I want to feel that if I need something from you to deliver better, that I’ll be listened to as an adult. I know me best – let me deliver for you.

As an employer I need to know what the organisation is trying to achieve and the parts the teams and individuals are going to play in making this a reality.

I’ve thought through how long your contribution should take and what a fair amount of money is to pay for your contribution.

I’ll provide you with what you need to deliver and I’ll expect you to come to me if there’s something we need to sort out for you to get it right – but essentially it’s your responsibility and you’re accountable.

Do we have a deal?

Every organisation is on a journey and this is the kind of thinking we are trying to embed into Chwarae Teg’s future. We’ll let you know how it goes.

By Joy Kent. CEO, Chwarae Teg. Follow on Twitter.