Flexible working for franchisees

Now that was interesting. I’ve just got back from giving a talk at London’s Dorchester Hotel on ‘the project-based economy’ to a group of accountants. The idea was that a lot …

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2nd May 2007 at 3:23 pm

Now that was interesting. I’ve just got back from giving a talk at London’s Dorchester Hotel on ‘the project-based economy’ to a group of accountants. The idea was that a lot of well-connected and senior people from banks and elsewhere shared their thoughts on the way the economy was evolving and I put something in speculating on where it was going. I looked mostly towards a project-based, outcome-rewarded business model rather than the ‘turn up on time and we’ll pay you for X hours’ system many people have at the moment. The prevalence of home working means managing people by their presence is going to be a thing of the past shortly anyway – managers will have to reward and manage by outcomes.

On the way back I started thinking about how this would affect people in real life. It’s easy, pontificating and saying ‘this will happen, that will happen’ knowing that by the time it does or doesn’t come into place I’ll be well away from the podium and not really accountable for anything I might have said. But what about the real life managers who’re having to start trusting absent workers to get things done and inevitably to throw the idea of a ‘timesheet’ out of the window? They’re coping, but it’s tough.

And more than that, what about the people running a franchise operation? They have to balance new ideas like flexible working against the expected norms from their parent company. This can be complicated by legislation, which is threatening to expand, that allows workers to ask for flexible working as long as it doesn’t damage the business plan. What if someone puts forward a proposal for flexible working or operating a service from home which, although it doesn’t harm profits or service, doesn’t fit in with an established umbrella corporate image?

A survey this week said 20 per cent of employees wanted to be able to work from home in some form or other. 20 per cent. This thing’s barely started and the unique features of franchising will make it less than straightforward. I’d love to hear from franchise operators who’re already doing it.

Guy Clapperton

Guy Clapperton is a freelance journalist who specialises in small business issues and has written for the likes of The Guardian, the FT and the Daily Mirror. Guy has written about finance and franchising for SmallBizPod. http://www.guyclapperton.co.uk

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