Wiggle Room. We Want It.
In almost every company I've worked for, they do an associate survey at some point during the year. One of those questions ALWAYS seems to be "Do you want more flexibility?" What a dumb question! Of course we do!
Well, wait a second. What's flexibility?
Turns out, it means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Add onto that the general misconceptions around "flexibility" and you have yourself a nice little debate. I'm in the corporate world...I hear it. Some mock flexible schedules because they think it's a bunch of millennials wanting to slack off. Some just assume it's a Mom who doesn't want to put in her full day's work anymore when she comes back from maternity leave. Others say it's lazy people with no work ethic who want it. I share these examples with you because this is what the traditional workplace thinks of flexibility...bad work ethic. Surely you're not committed to your career if you want flexibility. Living up to the eight to five means you're married to your job and care more than everyone else.
While yes, the examples I just gave do exist, I think they're the exception. For the others, they have reasons that would shock the traditionalists. If they actually spoke to one, they'd find that the millennial sitting next to them lives a very different life than them, and it needs a different schedule. Or that the new Mom really just wants to see her kids without fielding assumptions about her commitment to her job! Flexibility allows for this.
More than anything though, when you think flexibility, you often think it's women asking for it (there's nothing wrong with that by the way).
In Laura Vandekam's recent Who Wants Flexible Work? Men. she responds to a recent survey indicating that the majority of people asking for flexibility right now in Corporate America are NOT the examples I gave above.
In the survey, we learn that it's actually men asking for the flexibility. Hmmm, fancy that. You can read her article to understand her theory as to why these numbers exist - it makes sense.
The point of the story here isn't to comment on men asking for flexibility. I applaud them for that. The point of my story is just to expose the normal people who have a variety of positive reasons for wanting or needing flexibility. Corporate America is changing, largely because people are asking for it. Because really, you get good work out of happy employees. Duh.
For me, my morning routine means I typically come in a bit later and stay later. For someone else, maybe they need to roll in at the crack of dawn so they can leave the office early to attend classes for an MBA. For another person, they're looking for some peace and quiet so they can be productive and opt for late evening hours. Maybe someone else needs to avoid a terribly long commute, or stay home and take care of a sick family member. I could list a million more, but I think I've made my point.
For whatever reason, I'd like to see flexibility become a positive thing. More people should ask for it (within reason of course, we still have to work!). We should start applauding people who can take control of their lives and ask for flexibility and not gossip about them. If someone's unique schedule isn't directly affecting you, then get over it.
What do you think? Does your company give you some flexibility? Are you one of those people who see the need for flexibility a work ethic problem? Did you leave a company because they didn't accommodate your need for flexibility?