Like to have more time to travel but work gets in the way? Well, it turns out, your company would probably like you to have more time to travel too—or at least, time away from the office that ensures work and life are kept in balance. That’s the idea behind flex time.
A recent survey by Working Mother magazine took a look at how men take flex time—that take-it-when-you-need-it, work-where-you-work-best idea that has become so popular, especially with younger people and working parents.
Many companies have formal flex policies, while others take a more casual approach. But in all, most companies offer some sort of flex time. The Working Mother survey found that 77 percent of men surveyed said their company offered flex time, but only about half have a formal flex arrangement with their employers. That means there’s a lot of time left untaken (that might be best used for travel).
Taking flex time is not just good for pursuing important pastimes or getting involved with your kids; it’s good for the career, too. The survey found that men who take flex time also feel more supported by their spouse, better supported by their employer and feel more respected in the workplace. However, making that transition can be a challenge: while 80 percent of male supervisors surveyed agreed that people should have flex time, 40 percent said it’s hard to manage people who work on flexible schedules.
So how do you get your company to create formal or informal flex policies? A discussion about the survey and how men use and view flex time revealed some strategies for taking and managing flex time:
- To create or promote flex time policies or better use those already in place, begin the conversation with your employer and co-workers. Getting ideas out into the daily conversation will start the process.
- Creating flex time policies starts with agreeing on an employee’s and a job’s value–a proven track record, measurable performance, process and transparency are good places to start. Managers can then see where flex time is earned, how it boosts value, and that the job is getting done no matter where the employee is at the time.
- Remember that flex time strategies are not about working less, but rather focusing on what matters at that time.
- Policies that are not talked about and not seen being used don’t work; if flex time is used at the top levels of the company and talked about, other employees will feel comfortable using it. Talk about what the CEO or COO is doing outside the office, as dads, athletes or care givers.
- As a leader it’s important to encourage people to be flexible, to let them know you’re taking flex time and what you’re doing while your’e away.
- Flex time is a great way to help new employees acclimate to new offices or markets; one company gave employees a few extra weeks of time off when relocating to a foreign country; it helped them to acculturate and feel part of the new culture.
- New parents—or employers of new parents—should especially encourage flex time, for both the mother and the father. Parents of adopted children cite these policies as particularly helpful in making the transition to their new family status.
When dads take flex time, they tend to take care of families first and foremost, or use it for volunteer commitments, parent care, to pursue personal passions such as boating or training for a marathon. Or, to cross items off their bucket list, one trip at a time.
— By Scotty Reiss
Image source: Peter Werkman