Almudena Cañibano: publishing a FT (ESCP Europe – Madrid Campus)
Almudena Cañibano – ESCP Europe (Madrid Campus)
Cañibano A. (2018). “Workplace flexibility as a paradoxical phenomenon: Exploring employee experiences”, Forthcoming in Human Relations.
How do employees of dynamic consulting firms deal with their demanding professional environment, where they must be accessible, responsive, and flexible seemingly around the clock? This case study of a large consulting firm explores employee experiences of flexible working through the lens of paradox. It finds that flexible working far exceeds the set of approved flexible work arrangements and practices enshrined in formal HR policies. Rather, individuals develop varied perceptions, expectations, and ways of organising flexible working, which emerge and evolve as they accumulate experience in a context where clientfocused responsiveness is key. The paper argues that flexible working is part of the deeper psychological contract between professional employees and the firm. This allows us to better understand how the paradoxical tensions that characterise workplace flexibility are experienced as evolving combinations of contributions and inducements. Employees manage these tensions in different ways, including vacillating between polar opposites and integrating contradictory elements, creating an overall mental picture of their flexible working experience.