Flexibility and Fragmentation at Work


In every organisation (or work place), the human resources play an important role in determining the overall performance. For instance, the machines and other instruments that are used in the production are controlled by the human beings. Therefore, it is necessary to manage the human resources in the right manner in order to maximize its productivity. One of the main ways through which employee’s productivity can be increased is promoting flexibility in an organisation. The productivity of employees can significantly be improved if the organisation can enhance flexibility and fragmentation at work.

Flexibility refers to working conditions that are feasible with the changes (domestic and their personal) needs (Anonymous, 2007). These involve the adjustments in the working system in order to achieve good work-life balance. Work-life balance refers to the state of equilibrium between the person’s life and the work they are engaged in. It is the ability to accommodate both requirements and other off duty functions which are important in the social life.

This study has a great importance especially to the current business world where the market is characterized by a high level of competition. In the modern social world, interaction among the people has intensified. People are engaged in different forms of interaction. Also in the modern workplaces, people are engaged in various off duty activities. These activities are increasing at a very high rate. Fore instance, most employees are furthering their education while still working (Saundary, 2001). Others are engaged in other activities like leisure and family responsibilities. The need for leisure has also increased significantly. In order to accommodate these requirements, there is a need to have necessary changes to promote flexibility and fragmentation in the workplace.

Literature Review

A significant number of organizations have realized the need for flexibility and fragmentation in determining the productivity of the employees. In order to accommodate this, different organizations have come up with various strategies. However, the choice of the best method depends on the type of the organisation.

Working from home/ Telecommuting

One of the main strategies that have been extensively applied in promoting work-life balance is by introduction of a working system where employees are allowed to work from home. In the modern business world, the level of technology has been improving at a very high rate. For instance, employees are able to participate in conferences while still at their homes through teleconferencing. In the modern world, the labour force has been evolving, a factor which has forced many organisation to opt for telecommuting in an effort to reduce their costs (Georgia, 2002).

A research conducted by Cisco indicated that a significant number of its respondents experienced a substantial increase in work-life flexibility, productivity and overall satisfaction as a result being given a chance to work remotely (Horstman, 1999). In other words, people appreciated the arrangements of working from their homes. This motivates them to an extent of improving in their average level of performance. Employees are able to improve on their work-life balance, a factor which significantly contributed to the improvement in their performance.

This method has significantly helped organizations in enhancing work-life balance. It has also helped in building up the talents in employees due to motivation and having a balance between the work and social life (Bird, 2006). More so, the companies has managed to reduce on its operational costs since it does not need to get big space for offices and also compensates its employees with a relatively lower commuting allowances to its employees.

Organizations have also managed to improve on their levels of efficiencies and effectiveness by allowing their workers to work remotely. This again increases on the overall performance of an organisation. For instance, Cisco has recorded annual an average level of savings of about $277 million per annum in productivity by giving its employees a chance to telecommute (Jose, 2009).

The main advantage of this method is that it is advantageous to employees because it provides them with an opportunity to organize their work day depending on their family and personal needs, working in favourable and less stressful environment, reducing work related expenses (Nicolaisen, 2011). This method is also beneficial to those employees who may be having some disabilities like walking problems. The disadvantage if this method is that the system is not applicable in all types of work (Cremers, 2010). For instance, a bank cahier cannot work from home. They are required to present themselves physically at the workplace.

Compressed hours

Compressed hours also play a pivotal role in promoting flexibility in an organisation. In this system, an organisation makes necessary arrangements with its employees where they work for a long duration of time in certain shift for a reduction in the number of working days in their work cycle (Anonymous, 2000).

One advantage of this method is that it can be of great help to those employees who may be wishing to reduce the number of days they work in a week but who cannot afford to reduce the number of working hours (McFarlane, 2009.). It also enables employees to have additional days of off work hence reducing commuting time. This may significantly improve the productivity of employees.

The disadvantage of this method is that employees tend over work themselves in some days. In such a situation, their productivity is lowered significantly. Consequently, this may lower the profitability of the organisation.

Part-time work

Another method which has been applied by many organizations in facilitating work-life balance is through part time work (Chick, 2004). This is where people are employed in part time basis. They work for a fraction of the day and then resume to other personal duties. This system has significantly helped people especially mothers who have small children (Doellgast, Nohara, and Tchobanian, 2009). Part time work has enables many parents to save time interact with their children. Child’s mother plays a significant role in the socialization process of their children. Therefore, by working on part time basis, mothers are able to spare time with their children hence assisting them to grow in a socially acceptable ways. It also helps in bringing about gender equality in the in market since mothers are given an opportunity to work and also attend domestic duties (Asadullah, Fernández, 2008.)

Annualized hours

Annualized working hours is another strategy which is used by majority of organisation in an attempt to bring about work-life balance in their work place (Puigarnau, & Ommeren, 2010). However, this is based on the condition that they work for certain number of hours within the period of one year. In other words, the workers are given the freedom to distribute these annual hours according to their available. Therefore, individuals will be able to balance between the work and life.

The advantage of this met had is that an organisation is able to improve on the profitability of its employees by allowing them to work during their most productive periods (Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, 2007).

However, this method suffers the shortcoming of being cumbersome as it involves a lot of work for supervisors to monitor and coordinate the work of employees. The process of compiling and keeping the records of employees involves a lot of work and therefore can also be time consuming. Employees may also tend to overwork themselves in order to maximize on their off days. This may lower their productivity.


This information has shown that there are diverse ways through which organizations can promote flexibility. However, the study has indicated that these methods are faced with a number of shortcomings. Nevertheless, there is no much attention given on how these problems can be reduced. This is despite the fact that many organizations have found themselves stuck by these problems often. There is therefore a need to come with necessary measures in order to solve these problems.

There are several ways through which these problems can be compressed. First, organizations can reduce these problems by ensuring that they are specific in completing the written workplace flexibility agreement (Starr, 2010). For instance, the organisation must classify which method is applied and to what extent. For example, in the case of compressed hours, the supervisors may specify the extent to which an employee can compress their working hours per day. This can help in reducing the cases where employees tend to overwork themselves.

After deciding on the method to apply in facilitating work-life balance, it is advisable to monitor the performance and the effectiveness of the arrangements. This will help in detecting any negative side effects of using that specific problem. By so doing, it will be easier to correct these shortcomings early enough before they distort the operations in an organisation. Continued review and adjustments with time can significantly help in solving these problems associated with organization’s efforts to promote flexibility at the workplace (Lin, 2010). In order to avoid any differences between employees and supervisors, it is necessary to encourage employees to give notifications on time in order to avoid clashing between the off duty periods for a significant number of employees.

By promoting flexibility and fragmentation in an organisation, employees get motivated hence increasing their productivity (Conti, 2002). When employees are motivated, they will become more committed to their respective duties because they believe that their hard work is recognized. They will be motivated to work harder in order to maximize the returns of an organization. Therefore, promotion of flexibility and fragmentation in an organisation has a pivotal role to play.


In conclusion, this discussion has indicated that flexibility and fragmentation at the workplace plays a very significant role in determining the company’s performance. By facilitating flexibility and fragmentation in work, organisation manages to improve on its employees’ productivity (KPMG, 2011). As already noted, current studies has indicated that employees are very satisfied with the measures which promotes flexibility in their work place (Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, 2007). This is because they are able to balance between the work and their lives.

Many companies have managed to balance between the work and life through various ways. For instance, many companies have been applying the telecommuting in order to allow enough time for their workers to interact with other people in the society (Serrano, 2009). These measures have helped in improving on their performance in the work place. Therefore, when organizations fail to balance between work and life, this lowers their performance since employees will not be motivated to put more effort in their work. Their productivity levels will therefore tend to be low. According to Taylor (not dated), there will be a great need for work-life balance in organizations as the process of globalization moves increases. Therefore, it is important for every organisation to embrace the necessary measures in order to improve on its performance. The modern business world has been characterized with a very high level of competition. In order to gain competitive advantage, organisation should therefore embrace measures that will increase the productivity levels of its employees and reduce its operational costs.


Anonymous, (2000). Flexibility Central to Work-Life Balance. Web.

Asadullah, M. and Fernández, R. (2008). Work-Life Balance Practices and the Gender Gap in Job Satisfaction in the UK: Evidence from Matched Employer-Employee Data. IZA DP No. 3582

Bird, J. (2006). Work-Life Balance Doing It Right And Avoiding The Pitfalls. Autumn 2006, vol. 33, no. 3. Copyright 2006, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Chick, E.D. (2004). Fundamentals of Work-Life Balance. New York: American Society for Training and Development

Conti, J. (2002). Hearing on Flexibility in the Workplace: Does the Fair Labour Standards Act Accommodate Today’s Workers? Web.

Cremers, J. (2010). Rules on working conditions in Europe: Subordinated to freedom of services? European Journal of Industrial Relations; vol. 16, 3: pp. 293-306.

Doellgast, V., Nohara, H., and Tchobanian, R. (2009). Institutional Change and the Restructuring of Service Work in the French and German Telecommunications Industries. European Journal of Industrial Relations; vol. 15, 4: pp. 373-394.

Georgia, P. (2002). Work-Life Balance: A Case of Social Responsibility or Competitive Advantage? Web.

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, (2007). Workplace Flexibility (Workplace programs, policies and practices). Web.

Horstman, B. (1999). Decentralized and deregulated Australian industrial relations: The effects on HRM and IR in small enterprises, Employee Relations, Vol. 21 Iss: 3, pp.325 – 341

Jose, S. (2009). Cisco Study Finds Telecommuting Significantly Increases Employee Productivity, Work-Life Flexibility and Job Satisfaction. Web.

KPMG, (2011). Work Fragmentation, How Much Is Too Much. Web.

Lin, D. (2010). More Firms Offer Part-Time Work, Staggered HoursWeb.

McFarlane, A. (2009). Flexible Working Information Sheets. Web.

Nicolaisen, H. (2011). Changes in the regulation of overtime under different collective bargaining regimes: A comparison of Irish, Norwegian and Swedish banking. European Journal of Industrial Relations; vol. 17, 1: pp. 7-23.

Puigarnau, E. & Ommeren, J. (2010). Start Time and Worker Compensation: Implications for Staggered-Hours Programs. TI 2010-073/3: Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper

Saundary, R. (2001). Employee relations in British television-regulation, fragmentation and flexibility. Industrial Relations Journal. Volume 32, Issue 1, pages 22–36.

Serrano, C. (2009). Job Satisfaction, Union Membership and Collective Bargaining European Journal of Industrial Relations; vol. 15, 1: pp. 91-111.

Starr, R. (2010). Fragmented Workforce: The New Norm for Employers. Web.

Taylor, R. (n.d.). The Future of Work-Life Balance. Economic and Social Research Council: Future of Work Programme Seminar Series