Working Mother has declared today to be National Flex Day. I believe in flexible work schedules and hope that with research, information, and encouragement companies will embrace flexibility for their workers.
Lack of flexibility is one of the reasons I left my job at a great company. And, it wasn’t just the last company I worked for: it was all of them. For years, my husband used to tell me that he wanted me to have a job with flexibility. Probably so I would stop complaining about my lack of workplace freedom. I would tell him that I HAVE a flexible job. By definition I did. Because I was a performer, I could come in late, take a long lunch, or leave early. If my kids were sick, I could work from home instead of using one of my precious few vacation days. This, to many people, is a flexible schedule. To me, it was not flexible enough: Having to show up at the office every day with only ten vacation days (and no personal days) is just not enough flexibility for my busy working family. Although I could leave early to take a child to a doctor appointment, it wouldn’t have been cool leaving early so I could get a head start on dinner and still make the evening’s soccer match. It’s been my experience that businesses have a hard time justifying flexible schedules for some, but not for all. To be fair, I don’t think all jobs are able to have flexibility. My last several jobs I was in high leadership roles where peers and direct reports needed me in the office. This made the type of flexibility I desired hard to ask for. Although, I do think it’s possible to have flexible schedule and be a manager — and be a GOOD one too.
Now, as the owner of my own business, I set the work schedule. Already this year, I’ve been able to volunteer at my children’s school several times. Yesterday, Columbus Day, was, technically, a holiday. I say technically, because while it is recognized as a holiday, most people I know had to work. When I was working for big companies, it was never a holiday I got off.
Yesterday, I kind of forgot that it was a holiday and that I had wanted to take the day off. I had deadlines for clients that I needed to meet. But, I didn’t let that stop me. I worked in the morning and took the afternoon off to go on a hike because, well, the fall colors are getting freaking gorgeous right now! That meant that when my husband got off work, he had to make dinner and watch the kids while I headed back to work. I worked several more hours last night and met those deadlines. It was indeed a full work day, probably more than a full day, but it felt like I had time off to enjoy the holiday. Right now, this is my definition of flexibility.
So, I guess I celebrated National Flex Day a day early — or, maybe it’s just that I’m trying to make every day national flex day.
Be sure to read a piece on Huffington Post about National Flex Day.