When I was a young corporate worker, we could hardly mention we had families, much less request time off for a child’s baseball game.
I don’t regret working a bit. It made me a better parent.
But if I hadn’t been so worried about what my employer might think if I left the office early, I would have spent more time with family.
How things have changed.
Now, we celebrate the fact that families come first for our workers. And we recognize, and appreciate, that families come in all shapes, sizes, and iterations. Naturally, that means that different people have different needs surrounding their schedules.
Workers today expect flexibility when it comes to balancing their work obligations with family time and their personal lives. Parents want to be both involved with their kids and their careers. They not only feel good about leaving the office to attend a dance competition, they wouldn’t dream of missing it.
And people without children expect to get the same considerations for their personal lives—family gatherings, time with partners, and time to recharge—as their colleagues with children.
The reality is this: The practice working and being available to answer questions or tend to work-related emergencies at all hours of the day and night—the one we practiced for decades—is unsustainable.
Today’s workers are still getting a lot of work done, but they’re happier doing it when they can have some control over their schedules. Plenty of workers thrive within a structured environment, of course, but research also suggests that workers with flexible schedules enjoy increased productivity.
How can you keep up a healthy work culture around scheduling at your office?
Offer Off-Site Options
Telecommuting allows workers to work from home, or any other location. As technology becomes more refined and powerful, these options become easier for workers and employers to manage. Workers appreciate the option and are just as productive—maybe even more so. If your company culture depends on in-person interactions, consider giving employees off-site options one or two days each week and requiring in-office work the rest of the time.
If you’re concerned about employee availability, make sure you and your employee communicate about the specific expectations that go along with remote work arrangements. It might be a good idea to roll a discussion into their quarterly review and to check in often about how the schedule is working, for everyone involved.
Change Expectations Around The Office
Even if you can’t offer your employees remote working options all the time, make an internal assessment to determine what might work. Consider technological tools such as video conferencing to allow some workers to participate from a remote location.
Look at whether flexible start and end times—for particular workers or the whole office—would ease the burden of school drop-offs or evening activities. Consider an open office format that allows workers to move freely instead of requiring them to work from one cubicle or desk location.
Focus On Commitment
Experiment with new company policies that put the focus on the work and commitment of employees instead of time. Companies in some industries use flex time in the office, flexible vacation schedules, and flex locations. You may also consider creating job-sharing opportunities.
Clearly, some roles require attendance, such as construction work, firefighting, or Cinderella at Disney World. But in an office environment, flexible scheduling policies can be a key to increased employee loyalty and productivity.
Most people chase success at work, thinking that will make them happy. The truth is that happiness at work will make you successful. – Alexander Kjerulf