Although it’s a dramatic reenactment of office life, the YouTube video “Stop the Clock: Flexibility at Work, Part 1” (produced by Angel Productions, which puts together videos on equality and diversity issues) will certainly strike a chord with many current (and former) office employees. The fictional skit, performed in an office by British actors, highlights the various reasons people need workplace flexibility—and why they’re not getting it. And now, without further ado, we showcase: Life in an Inflexible Office (to watch the complete video, please visit YouTube).
A narrator introduces the video by stating how hard it can be for employees to balance their work life and their professional life. She stresses that without work flexibility, it’s not only the individual employees who suffer, but the companies as well, in the form of decreased productivity, low morale, and low employee retention rates.
A group of employees are working in an office. One employee apologizes for coming in late—at 9:05 a.m.—even though he stayed well past 7:00 p.m. the night before. A second employee says it makes no sense for them to come in early, since a client that they’re working with is two hours ahead of them. The first employee, a father, states that he can’t come in early and stay late all the time.
The scene shifts to the female workers in the office. One is caring for her aging mother who has bad days. Another female employee, an actress by night, wanted to work from home the day before, but Neil, the boss, wouldn’t let her. She is constantly interrupted at her desk and can’t get any work done. She tells Neil, a micromanager, that working from home is not special treatment. The boss retorts that one person starts working from home, then everyone wants to, ultimately ending up with an empty office—and presumably, workers who will slack off at home.
Another employee, a single mother, has an emergency and has to leave at 2:00 to pick up her twins. Boss Neil is angry and suggests having her mother help her. The three women meet up in the bathroom, upset and frustrated by their work environment.
The single mother admits she hasn’t gotten a thing done all morning because she was so worried about finding care for her children. She admits that she could have focused better had her boss said for her to leave earlier. The female employee who is caring for her mother is considering early retirement so she can care for her. Thing is, she wants to continue working but feels that with the inflexibility in her job, she doesn’t have a choice. The employee/actress confides in her fellow colleagues that she has a job interview the following week.
Neil schedules a meeting for after 6:00 pm, when the working father needs to go home. He talks to his son on the phone and says he’ll kiss him goodnight when he’s home—and already asleep. Another employee mentions that the staff should all have mobile phones, but the boss shoots down that idea, thinking that they’ll slack if he grants their request.
One employee, who seems to be very relaxed in the middle of the stress of office life, simply gets up to leave, telling his boss that he has a right to his own life. He leaves his computer on in case his boss needs access to his file. Neil retorts that because he’s leaving on time, he’s not committed to his job.
The scenarios depicted in the YouTube video are all-too-common for many of today’s office workers. From caring for aging parents, to working parents who want to be an active part of their children’s lives, to people with outside interests, everyone can benefit from work flexibility and should be able to ask for it freely, without the fear of being labeled as undedicated or not committed to their jobs. When employers see their workers as well-rounded individuals (with families, hobbies, and responsibilities other than work), and the subsequent (and mutual) benefits of having a remote workforce, only then can work flexibility (and work in general) truly flourish.
photo credit: thinkstockphotos.com