Billionaire Richard Branson pushes his company's management (and beyond) to embrace the idea of flexible employment arrangements. He argues that with today's cutting-edge technology, there's no reason people can't work fewer hours and be equally productive, if not more.
Hard work is key, but having fun and having fun is just as crucial. Word of a tycoon who has always embraced this working philosophy based on creativity. Branson, the founder of the giant Virgin, says (and writes in his books): "fun is one of the most important and underrated ingredients in any successful business."
Branson often stresses the importance of relaxing, recharging and reconnecting with the people you love. He believes flexible working allows Virgin staff to find a better balance between their work and private life. "Through this work-life balance everyone becomes happier and more productive," he said.
Like a Virgin
Virgin offers its employees unlimited leave and a work from home option. "It's easier to attract the best talent when you're open and flexible," Branson said in a recent corporate blog post. "It's not effective or productive to force them to behave conventionally."
The most important ally in this career transition? Technology. Branson is not afraid of robots stealing work from humans, he says technology should be embraced, because innovation makes it possible to get more work done in less time. This means that people can be free to have more time for themselves and what they like to do in their free time.
Short week? Very short? "A lot of people out there would love three or even four day weekends," Branson says. "Everyone would appreciate more time to spend with loved ones, to get fit and healthy, to explore the world."
How to blame you, Richard.
The billionaire knows what he's talking about. Come on, what do you want to tell him? Virgin Group, his investment firm, has interests in more than 60 companies, from trains and planes to spaceships and technology. Its activities are useful 53 millions of customers, they employ 69.000 people in 53 countries and they almost realize $ 22 billion in annual revenue. For me he is right to sell.
Also because he is not someone who necessarily wants to convince. He does so and is fine. You do what you like with your working life. One thing is certain: the good Richard, rich as a Croesus but not the richest of all (this also says something) has precise ideas. He became a staunch supporter of flexible working long before "smart working"became a word on everyone's lips. His philosophy changed drastically in 2005, with the birth of his first child. He experienced the needs and the change on himself, with an empathy that I recognized until now in people like Adriano Olivetti.
The flexibility of staying at home (even just occasionally) could make the difference between a parent advancing their career and one who has to quit. Less flexible companies put pressure on families and limit opportunities for working parents. This is not good for anyone.Richard Branson
Flexible work career, 3 day week, as long as it works well
Branson convinces me even more when he also warns that flexible working "is a powerful tool, but only when used correctly".
It's not just about handing out laptops and letting someone work from home. Nor to take one or two days of work out of the working week. Truly flexible roles have a different mindset, designed to fit. Getting paid more to work less is a difficult balance point, but much more flexible work arrangements will be the norm before long, and it's best to prepare for it.
We either change or we will be changed
One of the reasons our work lives will become flexible, Branson says, is that the modern workforce is already evolving. More and more people want the freedom to spend time with their family and to go about their business. Faster connections allow people to work from anywhere - a survey reveals that already today 43% of American workers work remotely at least part of the time.
The second reason I wrote to you before: teleworking improves productivity. Happy employees are better employees. So it is not surprising that remote workers report greater overall satisfaction: without a long commute to do, they can start the day earlier and be more productive.
Other collateral factors? The possibility of establishing a flexible form of work allows companies to select better workers, not only on the basis of distance in kilometers, and also to extend the workforce without higher real estate costs.
What matters most of all, however, is trust. Branson firmly believes it: Flexible working is smart work. If you trust your co-workers and employees, he says, they will reward you.