Monday 21st January 2019
Workplace flexibility in France

Work/life balance is an issue of debate across the globe, and despite our best efforts, so many of us seem to be getting it wrong, with 80-hour weeks, work-related illnesses and stress on the rise. Perhaps we should be looking to the example set by our French colleagues, where flexible working plays a major part in improving lifestyles and job satisfaction.

Flexible working has been part of French Government legislation for many years now, proving that sometimes, flexibility is the best way to create accountability and productivity among our workforce. Condeco’s Modern Workplace Trends research discovered that French workers feel the positive effects of flexible working, especially in three key areas: collaboration, productivity and communication.

Collaboration en milieu de travail

Sixty percent of French business leaders feel flexible working has a positive effect on collaboration

In modern workplaces, creating a space which fosters collaboration is important. In France, 60% of business leaders felt flexible working has had a positive effect on collaboration amongst their workforce. France is known for leading the way in style and sophistication, so it comes as no surprise that French workspace design also reigns supreme, incorporating motivating collaboration spaces for their workforce into their offices.

Ekimetics, located on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, have clearly thought about collaboration within their workspace. Their office features breath-taking traditional design elements, like gilded details and large bay windows, mixed with useful and fun modern features, including a slide. The cleverly-designed meeting spaces allow the workforce to come together and create, against an inspiring and classically beautiful backdrop.

La productivité sur le lieu de travail

The French work fewer hours and take more holidays than workers in the UK, so how do they manage to be more productive? This could partly be because of French employment laws: les 35 heures, which was introduced in 2000, stops people from working unnecessary hours. There is also research which suggests France generally experiences higher levels of job security, meaning people are less likely to hop between jobs. This may lead to a deeper understanding and trust in employers, and greater confidence in their own work resources and abilities.

Flexible working has had a 70% overall positive impact on productivity

We already know that France puts a high importance upon design, and it’s often cited that design and layout, coupled with a flexible working policy, helps to aid productivity within the workplace. No wonder France is doing so well at maintaining flexibility! PrestaShop, located in the heart of Paris, has incorporated a fully-equipped kitchen, breakout spaces and even a secret room in their HQ, all designed to enhance work tasks and inspire their workforce. Installing a proper kitchen may not suit all workplaces or working cultures, but in France, colleagues will often get together over lunch to brainstorm, discussing new business ideas and concepts.

The plan was to build a place where productive work is brought about by a constant feeling of conviviality and fun.” PrestaShop, speaking to OfficeLovin’

La communication est roi

Communication is king – no successful business can be properly run without strong communication between employees, employers, clients and customers. Interestingly, many aspects of French businesses are more formal than other countries – some people still maintain formal greetings and signifiers, while traditions like ‘casual Friday’ aren’t particularly common. The French are also famed for their direct communication skills, possibly making it easier to get to the point, and avoiding redundant or superfluous discussions.

At first glance, this feeling of tradition, combined with such a candid approach, might seem almost at odds with France’s embracement of flexibility in the workplace. Nobody expects those who favour formality to provide a variety of layouts and spaces, encouraging workers to better collaborate together. When we think of the modern workplace that enables flexibility, we probably think of a fun and funky office, with dressed-down staff and lots of creative flair. However, as Ekimetics’ stunning offices show, a mix of old customs and forward-thinking can also be a recipe for success.

It could even be said that mixing the old with the new, and the rigid with the flexible, is paramount to creating a better work/life balance. After all, it certainly seems to work for our French friends!

Note: Read Condeco’s latest Modern Workplace Report

Research report: Attitudes to Hybrid Working.

Attitudes to Hybrid Working Report

The impact of hybrid work on employees and employers.

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