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Today an article suggesting that one in three working “admit to skiving” caught our eye (

The figure might not surprise many of us, either as managers or people who have taken time off.

But what is interesting is the suggestion by one of the partners of PricewaterhouseCoopers that introducing flexible working can help, as well as helping make people feel appreciated, or not taken for granted.

We would certainly agree with this.  Essentially, it describes a culture shift and a different dynamic between the organisation and the employee.

If there is an open, mutually respectful culture of honesty and responsibility, then people should feel able to talk to a line manager or supervisor and say things such as “I’m having a bit of a stress with some family issues – would you mind if I took some work home this morning and caught up some extra hours later in the week?”

However, many people feel that they have to come up with a significant excuse to be able to be allowed the time off (e.g. my dog has died, as in the article), and this is more symptomatic of a teacher-pupil relationship than mature work colleagues.

Of course, we need to be careful about just how much detail we give.  Not everything makes us sound good and we also need to be aware that managers have to be fair.  If one person is allowed to leave early because they need to get to the shops before they close, this can be seen by others as favouritism.

This doesn’t mean we will never have skivers in our workplaces and there will always be some work environments where flexible working just isn’t appropriate.  Hopefully though, we can reduce the need for people to feel they have to make up excuses, and if we earn the respect of others, we can find ways of supporting one another while maintaining the priorities of the workplace and meeting work demands and business goals.


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