Another Modern Day Lie: What is Flexible Working?
24 min read
Flexible working is a modern work method allowed by the internet technologies that enables individuals to work regardless of their physical location.
The most common ways to work flexibly are working from home, remote working, or telecommuting.
The model refers to an employee can work remotely or sit in the house. It has the following pros:
- Relaxed start and finish time
- Work from anywhere
- Compressed hour (whole week work but with shorter and longer days)s
- Project-based work
- Shift work
It is a non-traditional working arrangement for individualized personal needs. Teleworking has significantly increased during recent pandemic times.
Different opportunities and challenges are involved in adopting flexible work arrangements.
Many legal issues are also associated with this type of work. It can discuss as a strategic staffing management solution in developing countries, especially after the Covid-19 Pandemic experience.
What is Flexible Working?
Flexible work means work from anywhere and anytime.
This working pattern gives relaxation times, as there is no fixed scheduling like working 9-5 in an office. Maintaining a work-life balance would be beneficial.
It’s ideal for working with a remote team. However, it can be time-consuming.
History of Flexible Working
People have been working from home for hundreds of years, but the flexible working trend increased dramatically in the last ten years.
The W. K. Kellogg Company pioneered flexible working arrangements in the 1930s. In 1978, West Germany coined the word “flex time” to describe policies to balance work and family life.
Telecommuting tries during the 1980s gas crisis was observed, but not everyone chose to work from home.
As high gas prices and shortages persisted into the 1980s, many of our country’s most prominent corporations increased their work-from-home opportunities.
The most well-known companies providing increasing chances for workers to work from home include Sears, General Electric, and American Express.
Many working-class English lived where they worked throughout the Middle Ages. Bakers, blacksmiths, shoemakers, and others all ran businesses out of their homes, blurring the lines between work and home.
The term “flexible working” establishes to maintain a balance between work-life and home-life. Later on, it was known as work from home.
Today, in this time of the pandemic, almost everybody knows about flexible working.
Technologies That Help Flexible Work Being Real
The use of high-level technology is essential for flexible working. In a company, you can communicate with your remote team with different technologies.
Work remotely, or flexible working is only possible if we have proper usage of technologies.
The way workers use technology in the workplace has changed dramatically over the last decade. Employees use portable hardware like mobiles, tablets, as well as exceptional wireless networking.
Workers will take advantage of the time that they would otherwise waste by using portable technology. Inventions in mobile technology also enable businesses to enhance customer service.
Technology allows workers to contact customers or respond to customer calls, pass documents, or respond to emails without waiting before returning to the office.
Many tools use for different purposes in business for making the remote working real. These are:
Communication instruments are the essential tools for collaborative work management.
Mails, Emails, Phones, sharing files, sharing screens, apps, and software for web conferencing are imperative communication tools used in small projects.
Besides these projects, today, in COVID -19 crises, communication tools have become essential for every remote worker. Therefore, these tools are decisive necessities now.
Teams can easily interact by referencing one another in notifications and hosting discussions in the sense of specific projects or tasks.
With Google Drive and Dropbox integrations, sharing files is easy, and Zoom and Slack integrations make it simple to continue the conversation on other platforms.
In the last few years, a tremendous change in the business has come in the form of online business that is now overcoming worldwide. Furthermore, in the time of crises, small companies have relied on these tools more.
Today the industries, which are using communication tools, are growing faster than others. Here are some communication tools that help in flexible working:
- Skype for Business
- Microsoft Office
- Hub spot
- Google Drive and many more.
Project Management Tools
Project Management Tools are the devices that can help you schedule, coordinate, and handle your team’s work from beginning to end. Collaboration is the primary benefit of good project management software.
They would help if you organized team activities so that everyone knows who is responsible for what. Feedback, files, and status reports can all be shared.
Moreover, responsible personnel gets a complete picture of what’s going on. So teams can focus on the right tasks at the right time.
Implementing new tools and technologies has become a need in the current scenario.
Here are some project management tools that are helpful in our remote work:
- Proof Hub
- Work Zone
- File Stage
- Zoho Projects
- N Task
Information Sharing Applications
The exchange of data between different organizations, individuals, and technologies refer to as information sharing. The devices using for information sharing are called information sharing tools.
If any staff or team has access to information, not all decisions take equally. It means that not everybody is still on the same page.
Collaboration software for teams is becoming more popular. Technology provides a plethora of choices, from networking to project management.
New online communication platforms emerge every year while existing ones continue to improve their features and functionality. A collaborative management system has helped many businesses expand and prosper.
Some information sharing tools that commonly use are as under:
- Screen Cloud
- Gecko Board
- Google Slides
- Google Data Studio
Performance Control Tools
One of the essential parts of a company’s duty, checking the performance of employees, can easily be done with the help of performance control tools.
These tools are helpful in the evaluation of the effectiveness of working people. Today, in the flexible working era, Performance Control Tools become a significant need.
It targets organizational objectives by defining areas for improvement. Performance management tools help in making decisions by comparing the performances of different flex workers.
Plus, these tools assist in the improvement of plans.
Top performance management solutions are
- Employment hero
- People Stem
What are the Differences between Flexible Work and Remote Work?
Flexible working means “any working schedule that is outside of a standard working pattern.” It’s a way of doing your tasks that works for you.
If you work in an office, flexible hours can mean fewer hours. However, flexible working is the term in which working hours are not strictly defined.
One can complete working tasks within 24 hours and work any preferred time, which feels comfortable.
The worker has no fixed timings like 9-5 in an office.
The employee can maintain the comfort zone in your family time and job duties.
Flexible working becomes essential when you are in a personal emergency. If you experience unusual circumstances, flexible working helps you to satisfy your job-related obligations.
Remote Work is slightly different than flexible work. Remote working is the term in which the team is not communicating in the office daily.
Remote working means working from anywhere.
The fundamental difference between the two is flexible working gives a time of relaxation. In less important tasks, you do not need to go to the office daily.
You can work from home. You can attend your meeting through telecommunication tools.
According to a survey, 77 percent of people want flexible work. The companies also understand this new demand of modern times and give their employees this opportunity.
But, many people don’t like remote work. They don’t want to work outside. They find it easy to work and socialize in an office with the 9-5 schedule.
Some of us feel bored working 9-5 while others took it like that they become disciplined.
What are the Differences between Flexible Work and Freelance Work?
The flexible work and freelance work look the same because your presence is not necessary for both. Nevertheless,
the difference is that there are still formal long-term bonds between employees and the company in flexible working.
This relationship has a standard contract.
In freelance work, you have to do your job for a project. When the project is over, you won’t have more bonds with that client.
A freelance worker is a self-employed worker in marketing, social media, etc., with no specific agenda. Freelancers do not work for a single company and give their skills to many organizations.
Flexible work and freelance work can both be work from anywhere type of models.
The difference is that flexible worker operates for one company, and the freelancer works as a self-employed.
The freelancer doesn’t get the extra benefits and securities that a company gives to its worker.
Moreover, a freelancer works for short-time projects, and a flexible worker usually does long term.
Freelancing is a term in which an employee works with multiple clients at the same time. There are many fields for freelancers, such as writing, graphic designing, marketing social media, and many more.
Nowadays, freelancing becomes a trend. Instead of finding jobs in companies, people groom their skills and do work on their own. By choosing to freelance, you can maintain a work-life balance.
The payments are usually higher in freelancing rather than in a regular company job. The benefit is that you can improve your skills day by day by working on different projects.
But in the same organization, you are almost doing the identical assigned work, and there are no chances of refreshing yourself.
There are some defects in working as a freelancer, though. You have to be motivated all the time, and your reputation is much more critical.
Furthermore, you have to pay your insurance as your own and don’t get medical and other benefits that an organization gives to its worker.
What are the Differences between Flexible Work and Home Office Work?
Discussing the difference between flexible work and home office work, we should first have a clear view of the home office work model.
Home office work has two meanings.
A home office can be a room set aside in a person’s home to conduct official business activities. Many small businesses have become reliant on home office space as prices have risen.
In another way, home office work means work from home necessities in crisis, like the current Covid -19 situation. It means the companies assign workers the tasks they should perform as they can’t go to an office during this pandemic.
Working from home is often creates a safer work environment.
Some people do not want to talk or interact with others, but they can do fantastic work. Home office work is helpful to such types of people.
When we look at flexible working, workers have less rest time.
So flexible work does not mean that you are free to work from home. You have to follow the rules and regulations of the company.
In a home office, you don’t go to an office or other place of work. Your own home or residence is your office. You can do your job without the distractions of an office.
You give your best to work and family at a time because you are not bound to timings.
Face-to-face communication is essential when you are planning your business, making new decisions, and strengthens relationships.
In short, both types have some merits and demerits.
Types of Flexible Working for Employees
What happens when you’ve agreed to provide your employees with flexible work schedules? Workplace flexibility isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.
There are different styles of flexible work arrangements.
The method which you select for flexible working depends on your present situation and your requirement.
When choosing which type to use, we first consider which one would help employees achieve a better work-life balance.
Some employees don’t want rigid working hours, so they always want to find a job with timings adaptability. Moreover, not in all cases, flexible working works.
We have to study the benefits and defects of all types of flexible work arrangements. So, we can choose the best that suits our business.
As technology advances, flexible work schedules are becoming more common. Employees can communicate more effectively even if they aren’t in the office simultaneously and work remotely.
According to Susan Heathfield, a human resources specialist, “the main aim when employers offer flex schedules is to recruit and retain superior employees.”
As a result, the employer’s benefit is to have a range of flexible solutions that suit the needs of workers as well as their lifestyle choices and requirements. Employers profit from satisfied employees.
Even if you want to work from home, you must always recognize and adhere to business rules. The Fair Labor Standards Act regulates minimum wage, overtime, recordkeeping, and child labor.
The FLSA did not cover flexible job arrangements, but it is still a must to adhere to the FLSA. Non-exempt workers, for example, must also be tracked and paid extra wages if they work overtime hours.
Employees benefit from flexible working arrangements in a variety of ways. Workers with greater flexibility in their job schedules have more opportunities to fulfill personal commitments.
They do not try to skip work to spend time with their children, make repairs at home, or follow personal interests.
Some companies who offer flexible work are:
- In Vision
- United Health Group
- American Express
Let’s look at the common Flexible Working Types:
Standard Working Hours but Flexible Start and Finish Time
In this type of flexible working, hours are defined, but the start and end times are not precise. Employees can choose when to start and stop working, but they must complete the task by a specific date.
If you have a 9-5 working time, you can change it to 10-06 if you find it more suitable. Some people feel active in the mornings, and others think evening times are more productive in their cases.
A flextime programmer allows employees to choose when they want to work.
Employees should align their work hours with public transportation schedules, their children’s plans, and regular traffic patterns to reduce high-traffic periods like rush hours, among other benefits.
Some argue that flexible working can transform the way we work.
Flexible working hours have several advantages, including improved efficiency and lower absenteeism among workers. When employees have more flexibility in their work schedules, they are more likely to be satisfied with their employment.
Rush-hour traffic congestion can decrease if more workers work flexibly, which reduces pollution and air-quality issues.
Employees must ensure that they are present at work during required core hours. Also, there might be a rise in energy usage if a company uses lights, heating, and cooling for more extended periods per day.
Standard Working Hours but Flexible Office Work
Flexible Office Work means that employees can work in traditional offices some days and outside the offices (at home or in a coffee shop, etc.) the others. However, they still need to follow the standard 9 to 5 working pattern.
The biggest gain in this type of flexible work is that employees can experience the reality of the office environment, such as colleague relationships and motivation from formality. They also take advantage of the remote working model, such as less commute time, more work-life balance, and family time.
Coming to the office 3 days a week instead of 5, for example, gives employees the chance to live in quieter places outside of big cities because the total commute time will be shorter and less exhausted.
Standard Working Hours but Compressed Working Week
An employee with a shortened workweek will complete a typical 35-40 hour workweek in less than five days.
A full-time employee, for example, could work four 10-hour days rather than five 8-hour days.
A 40-hour workweek is compressed into fewer days, typically four instead of five, in a compressed workweek.
When high workload periods occur in a business, compressed workweek arrangements may provide an easy solution for managing high workload periods.
The shortened workweek is only one of many flexible work policies available, including:
- Working from a place other than one’s official office is known as remote work.
- Task sharing is when two or more people work on the same project.
- Working part-time entails working fewer hours a week than the standard 40 for a given career.
- Flexitime is allowing workers to work where they want during the day.
You should probably understand the shortened workweek when developing your flexible work policy. For both sides, a compressed schedule is hugely advantageous.
It provides workers with more significant blocks of time off while also expanding the company’s working hours.
You must also be careful not to surpass the legal limit of how many hours an employee can work each week while establishing the shortened workweek guidelines.
Different countries have different daily maximums, but most fall between 9 and 13 hours a day.
Because of the increased risk of injury or mistakes, specific jobs may not be appropriate for longer hours.
In some instances, there is less oversight.
In some instances, this may result in understaffing.
It’s possible that arranging meetings would be challenging.
It may be possible that employees are doing unpaid overtime.
A more extended schedule can result in lower output at the end of the day.
Standard Job but Flexible Working Hours
In another flexible working model, the job and the time required for it are determined in advance, but the company gives the employees complete flexibility within the decided time frame.
For example, the specified task requires 2 working weeks. However, the project team managed to complete the work in 8 days. In this case, project team members will be allowed to spend the remaining 2 days off.
This method is like a mixture of project-based work and freelance work. The most observable advantage of the flexibility given is that the employees would gain powerful work motivation, job satisfaction, and work-life balance.
Special Arrangements for Working Moms
Working mothers might experience some troubles juggling between their job commitments and family’s needs because some employers do not have maternity leave or other benefits.
However, the workplace’s versatility is providing new opportunities for working mothers.
Working women moving into motherhood will benefit from workplace flexibility in a variety of ways. Mothers can continue their careers without abandoning their aspirations while still caring for their children and families.
One of the disadvantages of a flexible schedule for mothers is that they are often excluded from important meetings or passed over for promotions.
To address these issues, the organization should implement a flexible working strategy for all employees.
Implementing a versatile workplace entails adopting various activities and strategies on how workers can complete their tasks.
A flexible workplace isn’t a one-time initiative; it’s a set of actions that must change according to the company’s and employees’ needs.
Working mothers returning to work after maternity leave might need a flexible schedule due to child care, sickness, various forms of appointments, education, etc.
There are many advantages of flexible work arrangements for working mothers:
- Agree on a daily schedule that is most convenient for you.
- Developing your career
- Healthcare plan
- Retain work-life balance
- Taking care of your pregnancy
- Taking advantage of co-working/childcare places
- Reduced costs
- Reduced risk of burnout
- Child-friendly company culture
Paid maternity leave, paid sick leave, flexible work arrangements, and affordable, high-quality childcare are only a few examples of family-friendly workplace policies.
It helps children by providing working parents with the time and resources they need to care for their children.
To begin, determine what the most pressing needs of working parents are.
Vulnerable classes, such as temporary, informal, migrant, pregnant, or nursing employees, workers with disabilities, and those without access to resources such as paid sick leave, should receive special attention.
Since working parents’ needs are diverse, various forms of flexible work arrangements help parents care for their children and families.
Teleworking, compressing the work week, and maintaining secure long-term leave are examples of flexible work arrangements that enable employees to manage sick, elderly, or disabled relatives.
Steps should ensure that working mothers do not penalize for their choices, especially for women who, in many places, assume more care responsibilities than men.
Employers will play a critical role in promoting the well-being of working parents and their children by implementing and expanding family-friendly policies.
The Misconception: Too Flexible Working
Most employers take advantage of flexible working. They exploit their workers by using them 24/7 in the name of flexible working.
They give them any time anywhere to take advantage of flexible working in which working hours not define. Moreover, you have to work on different timing.
You have no bonds to 9-5 office timings, but in some cases, employers don’t give benefits to their employees, but they are using them behind flexible working.
In this way, the worker can mentally occupy 24 hours.
Therefore, when you are doing a job in which working hours can fix, you can complete your remaining work the next day. When the time is over, you are no more restricted.
You quickly leave your office by pending your outcome on the next day.
But while there are advantages to working in a flexible environment, if your boss wants to exploit the term, it can give you more work than can be done during defined office hours.
Unfortunately, in most cases, you are expected to follow these requests for your job security.
So, when using your working way, either it’s flexible working or not, you have to take a glance at what are your responsibilities?
It would be best to feel that your employer might not use you by offering you flexible working.
Flexible Working – Advantages and Disadvantages
Employees can now exchange files internationally, connect with colleagues through video conferencing, and collaborate remotely in the digital age, all without the added stress of a commute or distractions at work.
It is no longer necessary for every employee to be present in the office to be effective.
Managers, in many situations, deliberately encourage their workers to take advantage of flexible working hours.
Flexible working is desirable for business and has the following benefits:
Greater cost-effectiveness and productivity, such as lower overhead when workers work from home or less downtime for equipment when working 24-hour shifts. Possibility of having longer operating hours.
Since the company can recruit and retain a professional and diverse workforce, it can attract a higher skill level.
In addition, the cost of recruiting can reduce. Job satisfaction is higher, and employee productivity is higher.
Reduced absences due to illness. Workers that would otherwise leave give hours they can handle, resulting in more consistency.
Many employers have discovered that a better work-life balance improves employee satisfaction and employee relations, motivation, and dedication.
High retention rates indicate that you are keeping seasoned employees who can also provide better overall service. Customer satisfaction and loyalty have improved.
Increased Inventiveness means employees who are thankful for the opportunity to work flexibly will be more likely to participate with their company and contribute if they are happy and inspired.
Working will inspire practitioners to be more creative and think outside the box.
Management Simplicity defines employees who work flexibly will want to create a minor inconvenience as possible, reducing the amount of time their boss is required to provide feedback.
If workers can demonstrate that they are easy to handle on a non-standard shift, they can give more flexible working hours.
Most of the time, they get on with their work; they will contact co-workers or seek managerial assistance.
An employee’s legal right only allows them to request flexible working hours, not automatically giving it. Your employer will legally deny your request if they have a legitimate business purpose.
It can result in disappointment at best and outright confrontation with your boss at worst.
You are fortunate enough to be given flexible working hours. It would almost certainly necessitate improvements to your working habits, which would be permanent – you will not be able to switch and adjust them if they do not fit you in practice.
Working from home can seem to be ideal for an employee.
On the other hand, other family members might find it difficult to respect or even comprehend entirely the fact that, though you are physically at home, you are working and not free to do ‘other things.’
Your circumstances and employer will determine the ease you can interact with your co-workers. However, technical challenges should not overlook.
Pros and Cons for Companies
Employers have advantages of having flexible employees.
Employers can gain commitment from their employees.
Employee productivity, motivation, and loyalty to the company improve when any power over work schedules is relinquishing.
Employee turnover, absenteeism, and tardiness are all reduced due to flexibility, allowing employees to work through personal and family commitments.
Employers who give their employees a say in deciding their work schedule can reward their faith in their employees.
Business Improvements for Employers
Companies will be able to hire better workers if they have flexible work schedules. With family-friendly flexible work hours, they can establish a reputation as an employer of choice.
Providing options will help expand the hours of operation, which is particularly essential for customer service and technical support departments.
Businesses also have possible disadvantages of possessing flexible employees.
Some managers struggle to adapt to the modern management style,
which involves trusting relationships. They are used to seeing when their employees arrive at work, seeing what they do all day at work, and understanding when they leave for home.
Client handovers can be complicated in compressed workweeks,
customers demand service five days a week during regular hours and can be irritated if a specific employee isn’t available on Friday.
Jobs that require customer-facing duties only allow these forms of flextime because of this customer-centricity.
Pros and Cons for the Employees
There are many benefits of flexible working for the employees:
Employees with flexible work schedules will effectively fulfill their family’s needs, personal commitments, and life responsibilities.
You can meet day-to-day errands and care for family members without interfering with your job if you have a flexible work schedule.
Employees waste less time driving and traveling from home to work and vice versa.
Employees are required to travel a long distance between their homes and their workplaces. It means that after a day’s work, the employee is more tired and anxious.
Research shows that a flexible schedule improves productivity by 1% to 5%.
Employees do not want to return to set working hours because the relationship between management and employees has changed.
Workers also have potential difficulties of working flexibly.
Flexible work hours are not appropriate for employees who excel in an office setting and do not have the same schedule as their co-workers.
They rarely take the initiative or decide to work outside of their regular working hours.
Working at their speed is uncomfortable for some people.
In team-oriented settings, where timely conferences and meetings expect to address future projects and various other innovations, this form of working habit is a significant disadvantage.
Employees can respond differently to a compressed work schedule.
They improve their skills while staying at home or can be more efficient, or they can slack off and increase the amount of unfinished and pending work.
Are You Ready to Work Flexibly
Working from home is all about conserving your resources and concentration so that you can keep doing your best work while staying safe.
Working from home is neither better nor worse than working in an office; it is simply different.
Both forms of employment have gains and losses. The way which you choose depends on which losses you can live out.
There are both pros and cons of flexible working so according to all research one should decide it according to its situations and requirements. Maybe for some people, it helps a lot, and for others, it becomes a fuss.
If you are likely to choose to work from home, you should be more motivated than staying in the office every day.
It is possible to concentrate more at the office as control and balance may be less at home.
Working from home necessitates a great deal of concentration, discipline, and self-care. It is challenging to be in control of your schedule or inspiration every day.
Here’s how to prioritize your tasks.
There are many needs in a home office. So, take a glance before you start:
You can work from your couch on some days, but you’ll need a natural, ergonomic desk setup on others. It will aid in concentration and reduce physical pressure.
Consider adding a second monitor to your setup; it will significantly increase your productivity. Eye strain and headache problems can occur working in a dimly lit setting.
You have to be more focused all times, but you can also consider having a landline. During a business call, you won’t have to worry about losing service, and the voice quality should be excellent.
How to Start Working Flexible
The computer/IT and healthcare sectors, as in previous years, continue to provide the most remote employment, although the finance sector has also seen a steady increase in hidden work opportunities.
- IT & Computers
- Medical & Health Services
- Sales Accounting & Finance Project Management
- Service to Customers
You will start a flexible work then it allows you to work from home on occasion or all of the time. These super-flexible businesses are well worth your time.
The following are some of the fastest-growing career categories with remote postings, which grew by 25% from March to December 2020:
- Administrative HR & Recruiting Marketing
- Finance & Accounting
- Designing Graphics
- Customer Service & Mortgage & Real Estate Writing
- Project Management for Internet & Ecommerce
Although many jobs can do from home, accountant, customer service representative, nurse, project manager, recruiter, instructor, web developer, and writer are among the most common.
Dell Technologies, CVS Health, and Salesforce are among the 11 businesses on the list that have been on it since 2014, demonstrating a consistent dedication to incorporating remote work into their daily operations.
Many companies give online jobs. Top list companies which provide remote jobs are:
Robert Half International
EF Education First
Covid-19 and Future of Flexible Working
Situations change during the last year due to pandemics. People are in limitations. We have learned to keep our distance from other people.
Pandemic has modified our everyday lives to include as much time as possible spent at home. A strict hygiene routine now we follow involves frequent hand washing.
Our daily habits and plans have been thrown into disarray by the pandemic.
Technology has accelerated many evolutions into months rather than years. It has heightened our need for seamless connectivity while also shedding light on several previously considered outdated behaviors.
According to our findings, the rapid increase in the number of workers working from home, especially fathers, may have allowed for an equal distribution of unpaid work among heterosexual dual-earning couples.
Many people will now work more flexibly and in tune with their personal lives thanks to COVID-19.
This independence has been eye-opening. It has provided much-needed relief from the regular 9 am to 5 pm.
During the pandemic, working from home or teleworking ushered in a new age of efficiency, inclusion, and connectivity.
Six business leaders address how their communication has changed and how they want to use their office space in the future.
To ensure that flexible working is viable, inclusive, and here to stay, they’re embracing confidence, independence, and new leadership styles.
COVID-19 has changed the game. Remote work helps prevent the spread of covid-19. They are saving businesses time and money while also protecting the public’s health.
The outbreak of caused many employers to switch to a remote work model for all workers to contain the coronavirus’s spread.
A small project in which a remote team works is booming, but it must do accurately. It may not be the best situation for every employee or company.
The pandemic has caused global instability and catastrophe and forced the economy to go through a vast experiment.
There are some bright points for the future we work in the uncertainty, as about half of all staff participate in this remote work experiment.
The drawbacks and advantages of remote work are becoming more evident as the pandemic progresses. Although many workers are returning to work as economies recover but most of them wanted small projects.
It’s safe to say that remote work will play a significant role in how the workplace evolves in the coming years. More importantly, it is clear that the way we operate will continue to change.
Implementing an ambitious flexible work strategy that lays out straightforward rules for how teams are supposed to work, connect, and cooperate will help you solve the obstacles mentioned above and enjoy the rewards of flexible work hours.
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