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Home | Got a Minute | Bullying and harassment | No. 58 – When your employer’s ‘hybrid work’ model isn’t flexible

No. 58 – When your employer’s ‘hybrid work’ model isn’t flexible

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4 May 2022

My employer has said we can adopt a hybrid approach to working (three days in the office and two from home) but any change to our working arrangements requires employees to provide three months’ notice. I know lots of other companies in my industry give people the opportunity to design their own weeks – or work from home exclusively. I am thinking of changing jobs to find one that is more flexible. Before I do, is there anything you recommend I look for?

You are not alone in wanting to look around for employers that understand flexibility now means true flexibility. Having to plan three months in advance for any change in circumstances hardly seems particularly flexible.

If you decide to move to a new role, I would be asking to understand in detail what their policies towards hybrid work are, how personal arrangements are set (for example, can you decide what days you come into the office or is it a team decision which has presumably already been set).

I would ask how often you are expected to come into the office, the process for making changes to your arrangements and whether there are any expected days or periods of the year you must work in the office.

Most employers have developed an employee value proposition around workplace flexibility whether it is “work anywhere”, “flexible first” or “remote always” with some mix in between. If a prospective employer hasn’t thought about these issues then you will know it is not the place for you.

I am in the process of transitioning and my employer has been fantastic. They offer me whatever I need in terms of time away from the office and access to EAP. The problem is my other team members who don’t seem to want to understand what I am going through and make comments behind my back. They are never stupid enough to say it in front of one of our bosses or to my face but I know they don’t respect me or what I am experiencing. I feel like my employer has already done so much and I don’t want to cause any trouble. What should I do?

You are experiencing bullying which is totally unacceptable in any modern workplace. It sounds like your employer has been very supportive and I wonder whether there is someone in HR or a senior leader you trust to ask their advice?

Any good employer, and it sounds like you have one, will want to ensure you are protected and that those who are bullying you are dealt with appropriately. You are already going through so much, you should not have to tolerate bullying from your work colleagues as well.

Please seek help and advice from HR or your boss. I am sure your employer does not want to lose you, just as much as you don’t want to leave them. Good luck.

I am thinking about going back to university to do a PhD. I have heard they are a lot of work but I have always wanted to do one. I am not sure whether it is worth it since I don’t plan on working as an academic. Would you recommend doing one for career development?

I would be lying if I didn’t say I wanted to quit my PhD on a weekly basis but I am incredibly glad I didn’t. I never wanted to work in academia and find academic writing (which is core to a PhD) tedious. However, having a PhD has been important for me in establishing credibility in an area of expertise I am passionate about and I have never regretted doing one.

There is a lot to consider before embarking on a PhD and the first is exactly why you want to do one. Do you have an area of research that will keep you motivated over many years of tireless research? PhDs are all about adding to existing theories of knowledge so thinking about what your research question will be is a significant hurdle to begin with.

You should also consider the time you have available and whether your personal situation will enable you to finish a PhD. I did mine in my forties when my kids were older (my mother completed one in her 70s).

I chose to study full time over three years while I was also beginning my board career – I could (only just) juggle both commitments. Don’t underestimate the amount of work involved.

My advice would be to meet with the faculty where you think you might like to do your PhD research and start to talk with potential supervisors. You need to find supervisors who will support and encourage you and who are best placed to help guide you in your research.

I will always be glad I did a PhD and if asked, will always encourage you to do one. Just go into it with your eyes wide open.

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