The Changing Times Of Workplace Flexibility

When a loved one is looking for work, it’s all hands on deck! We support them by proof-reading their resumes and improvising mock interviews. I recently went through these motions with a family friend. Her requirements for employment were reasonable enough. A certain wage, medical insurance and the ability to work remotely — but only in the evenings.

“As a mother,” she reported, “having the flexibility in my work schedule to stop at 3 p.m., pick up my daughter, and restarting my workday after dinner, isn’t something i thought possible before the (COVID-19) pandemic.” She went on to say she loves working! And that she doesn’t mind putting in 40 hours per week or more. But she questions why those hours need to be in 8-hour blocks. “If the work is getting done, why does it matter when I do the work? For that matter, why must it be performed in a cubicle?”

Many employers and employees are finding innovative ways to reimagine the workday. Flex scheduling allows employees to work longer hours (for instance 10 hours a day, 4 days a week). Compensated time, where on-call schedules and weekend hours allow for paid time off during the business week. 

Of course, some organizations want to return to the way things were. In mid-December, Boeing instructed its managers to bring all 145,000 employees back into the office. The company stated that “there is no substitute for face-to-face collaboration and communication.” Boeing manufactures planes, and that’s hard to do from your home office. But not all employees are mechanics and engineers. Perhaps the company is also struggling to justify the cost of all its unused office space. Boeing is not alone. Apple, Google and Microsoft have all made similar demands on their workforce in recent months. 

But why would the very companies who gave the world the technology to work in pajamas, not align their corporate culture with the demands of the market? Why are employees forced to sacrifice a proven track record of at-home productivity and adaptability for an archaic 40-hour work week? 

Gone are the days where companies could implement one-size-fits-all policies. Some employees have kids and aging parents. As a result, they have unique demands on their schedules and workplace location. Returning to the office full time simply because the stay-at-home orders have ended is rejecting every innovative advancement we’ve made these past few years. We’ve all grown accustomed to immediacy — The internet gives us unlimited information, at the click of a button. We can stream any movie ever produced on demand. So why not our jobs? Companies who recognize that we have the ability and means to work anywhere at any time will have a leg-up on the competition. 

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