Blog Post

Wann sind Arbeitsbedingungen wirklich flexibel?

Nicht erst seit der Corona-Pandemie in den Jahren 2020 bis 2022 stellt sich für viele Unternehmen die Frage nach der Flexibilisierung von Arbeitsort und Arbeitszeit. Aber gerade jetzt stehen Unternehmen vor der besonderen Herausforderung, wie sie mit dem Thema Homeoffice umgehen wollen. Es scheint eine große Unsicherheit in dieser Frage zu geben. Man rätselt, wie Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeiter zurück ins Büro geholt werden können und ob dies überhaupt als sinnvoll erscheint. Hier gehen die Meinungen weit auseinander.

Nun stelle man sich in einem kleinem Gedankenexperiment folgende Situation vor. Ein Unternehmen entschließt sich dazu, die Frage nach der Flexibilität von Arbeitszeit und Arbeitsort den Teams zu überlassen: „Ihr entscheidet selbst, wie Ihr die Dinge handhaben wollt und was für Euch als sinnvoll erscheint. Findet eine Regel für Euch und handelt danach. Wir erwarten nur, dass Ihr Euch irgendwie einigt“. Ein Team folgt dem Aufruf, stimmt sich ab. Unterschiedliche Aspekte werden in Erwägung gezogen und man kommt nach einer intensiven Debatte zu der gemeinsamen Einigung, dass alle Mitglieder des Teams jeden Tag von 9 bis 16 Uhr im Office erscheinen.

Würden wir in diesem Fall von flexiblen Arbeitsbedingungen sprechen? Die Antwort lautet: Ja. Schließlich konnten die Mitglieder des Teams frei und flexibel entscheiden, wie sie es haben wollen. Die Antwort lautet aber zugleich: Nein. Offensichtlich haben hat sich das Team für feste Arbeitszeiten im Office entschieden. Was jetzt? Haben wir es hier mit einem Paradox zu tun?

Die Lösung dieses logischen Problems liegt in der Unterscheidung zweier Arten von Regeln. Es gibt die Regel erster Ordnung. Sie beschreibt, wie die Dinge tatsächlich geregelt sind. Im hier beschriebenen Fall sind die Arbeitszeiten ganz offensichtlich fest geregelt. Die Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeiter erscheinen jeden Tag von 9 bis 16 im Office. Dann gibt es die Regel zweiter Ordnung. Sie regelt, wer die Regeln wie aufstellt. In gewisser Weise ist dies eine Metaregel – eine Regel über den Umgang mit Regeln. Das klingt zugegebenermaßen etwas philosophisch, ist aber äußerst praktisch. Im hier beschriebenen Gedankenexperiment entscheiden die Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeiter selbst über die Regeln. Es könnte auch die Geschäftsführung sein oder eine andere Autorität innerhalb des Unternehmens.

Führt man diesen Gedanken fort, gelangt man zu vier, einfachen Konstellationen. Erstens, das Unternehmen entscheidet über die Arbeitsbedingungen und legt fest, dass die Mitarbeiter zu festen Zeiten an einem festen Ort sein müssen. Das ist die klassische, eher paternalistische Variante. Zweitens, das Unternehmen entscheidet über die Arbeitsbedingungen und räumt der Belegschaft ein hohes Maß an Selbstbestimmung ein – „Ihr könnt arbeiten wo und wann Ihr wollt“. Das wäre Arbeitsflexibilität nach Gutsherrenart. Die Mitarbeiter dürfen selbst bestimmten, weil es eine übergeordnete Autorität ihnen gnädig erlaubt. Drittens, die Mitarbeiter bestimmen selbst über die Flexibilität ihrer Arbeitsbedingungen und sie entscheiden sich für feste Arbeitszeiten und feste Arbeitsorte. Dies ist der im obigen Gedankenexperiment beschriebene Fall, eine Art selbstbestimmte Fixiertheit. Viertens, die Mitarbeiter bestimmten selbst über die Flexibilität ihrer Arbeitsbedingungen und sie entscheiden sich für Selbstbestimmtheit.

Verfolgt man die öffentliche Diskussion rund um das Thema Arbeitsflexibilität und Homeoffice, dann scheinen die ersten beiden Konstellationen implizit im Raum zu stehen. Reflexartig geht man davon aus, dass das Unternehmen, der Betriebsrat oder irgendeine andere Autorität über die Arbeitsbedingungen der Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeiter entscheidet. Auf ihren Schultern ruht die Verantwortung. Was ergibt Sinn? Wie können wir (die Autorität) es den Mitarbeitern recht machen? Wie gehen wir mit der Vielfalt individueller Präferenzen um? Wo ist der gemeinsame Nenner? Auf diese Fragen gibt es allerdings keine Antwort, die für alle Betroffenen, einschließlich der Kunden und Lieferanten zufriedenstellend sein wird. Zu vielfältig sind die Rahmenbedingungen, die Aufgaben, Anforderungen, Lebenssituationen etc.

Vermutlich kann man die Frage nach der richtigen und sinnvollen Flexibilisierung der Arbeit nicht für alle Mitarbeiter lösen, wenn man nur die Regel erster Ordnung in Betracht zieht. Entscheidend ist die Frage, wer, wie über die Regeln entscheidet, also die Regel zweiter Ordnung. Dies führt zu einer gänzlich anderen Diskussion und zu anderen Schlussfolgerung als das Problem, wie man Dinge am Ende für Alle gleichermaßen regeln soll. Einfach ist diese Diskussion nicht. Wollen wir es einfach den Mitarbeitern selbst überlassen oder braucht es eine Ansage „von oben“? Am Ende bedeutet echte Arbeitsflexibilität, die Arbeitsbedingungen den Teams zu überlassen, worauf immer sie sich einigen.

Related Resources

Want to keep learning? Explore our products, customer stories, and the latest industry insights.

A New Poseidon Adventure: Flipping Succession Planning Upside Down

Blog Post

A New Poseidon Adventure: Flipping Succession Planning Upside Down

Organizations make significant investments in efforts to hire the right candidates – the people who have the right experience and cultural fit. By carefully managing the performance and potential of these people over time, the organization can grow its leadership pipeline, keep a steady inventory of needed skills and competencies and remain nimble in the face of change (which we have plenty of all around us these day) – all of which can have serious impact on the bottom line. However, much of this pie-in-the-sky stuff relies on being able to locate and cultivate high-potential and high-performing talent across the board. Without an integrated succession management solution, recognizing and developing talent can be an ever-elusive process. The questions we are seeing asked today include: does the traditional top-down approach to succession management still make enough of a difference? Does managing succession for a slim strata of senior executives take full advantage of the kinds of talent data we now have at our fingertips? It doesn’t have to be so. Succession management can be an interactive process between senior leadership, managers and employees at all levels of the organization. And, if we trust them, we can actually let employees become active participants in their own career development. (Shudder.) Career Management (Succession Planning Flipped Upside Down) This "bottom-up" approach is gaining momentum because who better to tell us about employee career path preferences than employees themselves. Organizations actually have talent management and other HR systems in place that allow for collecting and analyzing a whole slew of data around: Career history Career preferences Mobility preferences Professional and special skills Education achieved Competency ratings Performance scores Goal achievement Training and certifications Etc. In short, pretty much everything we’d want to know to make well-informed succession planning and talent pooling decisions. For some, the leap is simply putting some power into the employee’s hands. The talent management system of 2011 is capable of displaying a clear internal career path for employees and then, on the basis of all that data bulleted out above, showing a "Readiness Gap" – what do you need to do to make the step to the next level? And if your talent management environment comes armed with a real Learning Management System, you can take it to the next level with a dynamically generated development plan that gets the employee on the right path to actually closing those gaps. Faster development, faster mobility. Organizations that seriously favor internal mobility don’t just make employees stick on pre-defined career paths – they can search for ANY job in the company and check their Readiness levels. I might be in accounting today, but what I really want to do is move to marketing. Giving employees the chance to explore various career avenues within the organization helps assure that "water finds its level" – that is, that the right people with the right skills and the right levels of motivation and engagement find the right job roles internally. Employee participation is key, but make no mistake – managers play an important role in this interactive process. They must be prepared to provide career coaching, identify development opportunities and recommend employees for job openings. The candid discussions require that employees have open access to information so they can best understand the criteria necessary to move to the next level. A Two-Way Street Employee-driven career management is just one tool. The more traditional top-down approach to succession management remains indispensable. But organizations that value talent mobility and the ability to be able to shift and mobilize talent resources quickly will find that attention to career pathing can be vital. For employees, of course, the impacts are immediate and include boosted levels of engagement, higher retention, increased productivity and more.

The Hidden Costs of Ignoring Your Talent Management Strategy

Blog Post

The Hidden Costs of Ignoring Your Talent Management Strategy

Building and maintaining a successful company hinges on having the right people to execute projects and drive results. People, we hear time and again, are your company's most valuable asset. But their success — and HR's ability to recruit, engage and retain them — depends on HR pros who are strategic decision-makers, armed with the proper tools to let them excel at their jobs. Modern HR professionals manage much more than payroll and benefits. But their technology tools, in many cases, haven't evolved past basic productivity software like email or Microsoft Word. HR simply can't be strategic with old-school tools that reduce people to statistics and give little insight into what the numbers mean. Emails and spreadsheets were not designed to deliver meaningful insights into people's performance, suggest when employees should be promoted or highlight skills gaps in a company. For that, HR needs a broader, more strategic set of talent management tools, which lets professionals manage every aspect of the workforce, from training and performance reviews to collaboration and succession planning. Yet, research shows that less than 25% of companies use a unified, holistic approach to their talent management. The Real Costs of "Doing Nothing" As a Talent Management Strategy The critical relationship between business strategy and HR strategy too often gets overlooked by senior leadership. While it may seem like the company is saving money by managing recruiting, training, performance and succession via manual and paper-based processes, in reality it’s costing your business more than you know. For example: Without a talent management strategy, a company with 2,000 employees is losing almost $2 million every year in preventable turnover alone. Businesses that don’t invest in learning suffer from decreased employee performance and engagement to such a degree that they can expect to realize less than half the median revenue per employee. That’s a direct impact on the business. In employee performance management, organizations without a focused strategy waste up to 34 days each year managing underperformers and realize lower net income. To learn more about the business impact of talent management and how to start building out your strategy, check out the eBook Why Your Nonexistent Talent Management Strategy is Costing You Money (And How to Fix It) and register for the March 19th webinar, Building the Business Case for Talent Management.

The ReWork Bookshelf: 8 Must-Reads from Author Carol Anderson

Blog Post

The ReWork Bookshelf: 8 Must-Reads from Author Carol Anderson

Editor's Note: What are our writers and experts reading? In this series, ReWork contributors share their"must-read" recommendations for HR professionals and business leaders. I read lots of business books, but anyone who has followed my writing knows I'm not terribly fond of popular business books; they simplify things too much. When organizations try to follow these books' recipes, they fail because they don't understand the underlying human concepts of organizational behavior. So, my reading list contains books that discuss original research into organizational behavior, specifically dealing with concepts most important to HR leaders: consulting, leadership and teams. Check out the first half of the list to find books that are easy to read and digest, and provide good information that is immediately useful and a little outside the norm for HR practitioners. Skip down to number five if you are looking for the most powerful—but more complex—books I have ever read. 1) Flawless Consulting by Peter Block Everyone is a consultant at some point, HR even more so. Block's chapter on dealing with resistance is powerful both in recognizing what resistance looks like, and then offering a simple method to diffuse it. 2) Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate and Compete in the Knowledge Economy by Amy Edmundson I started following Dr. Edmundson, a professor at Harvard Business School, when I was studying the concept of psychological safety and why smart people don't speak up even in a crisis. This single concept—psychological safety—gives HR practitioners a practical background in team behavior, and in turning problems into learning opportunities. 3) The Silo Effect: The Peril of Expertise and the Promise of Breaking Down Barriers by Gillian Tett Gillian Tett is an anthropologist turned business journalist who uses her study of culture to help organizations bust silos and improve performance. HR can and should be a connector. This book provides research-based arguments for why silos are counter-productive. 4) Repurposing HR: From a Cost Center to a Business Accelerator by Carol Anderson Full disclosure, this is my own book. I got tired of books about HR competencies that didn't provide practical "how to" advice for becoming strategic, so I wrote one. This book is helpful to HR teams that want to break down barriers, think collectively and add significant value to their organizations. As I mentioned earlier, the second half of this list contains the most powerful books I have read. They aren't necessarily easy to read and digest, but they are so worth the time. These books help put into perspective the challenges and hopes of human resource development. 5) Organizational Culture and Leadership by Edgar Schein MIT professor Schein is the father of organizational culture. Culture is a hot topic today, and this provides outstanding insight, grounded in research. 6) Organization Change by Warner Burke One of the most comprehensive and common sense models of organizational change. As an HR practitioner, I was frustrated by the number of external vendors that sell "change processes"—from Six Sigma to technology implementation to quality improvement. Their processes were good, but often not aligned with existing HR processes such as performance management. If you want to compete with the various "change agents" that tell organizations how to "change" (and you should) you have to understand change at its deepest level. 7) Leadership and the New Science by Meg Wheatley Wheatley describes how complex systems like organizations must be allowed to develop, rather than be controlled. The book offers solid ideas about how effective leaders can and should let go. I hope you find these helpful. I would love to hear stories about what you read and how it helped you. You can reach me at carol@andersonperformancepartners.com. Header photo: Twenty20

Schedule a personalized 1:1

Talk to a Cornerstone expert about how we can help with your organization’s unique people management needs.

© Cornerstone 2022
Legal