Friday, 2 December 2011

Live-in with an organisation

Someone comes up to you and says, “I want to be in a live-in relationship”. And you begin to think.

Does this person want to choose convenience over responsibility? Keep an exit option open and be focussed on the short term? Make an unconsidered choice and follow the trend? Is influenced by what is increasingly heard or said? Had a bad experience with marriage or witnessed dear ones go through a rough patch?

You may get surprisingly similar thoughts if someone comes up to you and says, “I want a flexible work arrangement”.

Now imagine that it’s my child who comes up to me and says, “I want to be in a live-in relationship”. I can’t just have thoughts and opinions. I will have to act. Do something for my child’s happiness and welfare.

Sure my child can make a choice. Just like she has in the past and handled it well. And be happy. Like I have been with my choices. Then, as an ordinary parent concerned about her welfare, I would want to ensure -

·         that she is making a considered choice and is doing it for the right reasons;
·         that she continues to respect and believe in marriage, to either consider it at some point, or at least, to be at peace with her choice and get peaceful vibes in return from married people;
·         that her partner scores well on the points mentioned above;
·         that she lives in a place that has people who are respectful of people and their choices.

Indulge me. Replace ‘live-in relationship’ with flexible work arrangement. ‘Marriage’ with full time regular work. The ‘person choosing to live-in’ with the candidate desirous of flexible work. The ‘live-in partner’ with hiring manager, supervisor, team mate or family. The ‘place of residence’ with an organisation.

And you might just hit upon the ingredients of making flexible work arrangements work ! Ask your questions, use the four points listed above, and get some answers. As an organisation, check to see how much you generally respect your people and their choices. And you might be able to predict whether and how beneficial it could be to offer flexible work. As an individual, introspect if you continue to appreciate that, all else being equal, the career advancement opportunity should go to the other person on regular employment. And you might temper your insecurities about getting victimised while on flexible work. As a line manager, assess how much you are willing to partner with an employee on flexible work. And you might get the direction to make it work. 

Since our individual and community experience with live-in relationships is more than it is with flexible-work arrangements, we could use the learnings from the former to inform the latter and push it in the right direction. Faster.

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