Fast Company: Time to Move from “If” Flex to “How” and “Why” Flex…

Over the past two weeks since we released the thought-provoking results of the 2009 Work+Life Fit Reality Check, I’ve been asked by a number of people what I think the findings mean.  To me, the results confirm that it’s time, once and for all, to move the conversation from “If work life flexibility exists,” to answering the questions:

  • How to make it really work for everyone, individuals and employers, in boom and doom periods and
  • Why flexibility is important for both employee work+life fit but also the day-to-day operation of the business.

Before we move forward, it’s important to note that these results are based on a telephone survey of 757 full-time employed adults, sponsored by Work+Life Fit, Inc. and conducted by Opinion Research Corporation.  With a margin of error of +/- 4 percent, this means that 95 out of 100 times the results would be within the +/- 4% if the total population were interviewed.

Flexibility in How, When and Where Work is Done is Here to Stay—“If” Flex is no longer the question

  • 98% of respondents indicated they currently have work life flexibility.
  • 81% of respondents indicated the amount of flexibility they currently have either increased or stayed the same from this time last year.
  • 85% said the flexibility opportunities at their company either increased or stayed the same last year.
  • 85% reported there was either an increase or no change in the likelihood they would use work life flexibility with the increase in the amount of layoffs at companies.

As Kathie Lingle, Executive Director of Alliance for Work-Life Progress commented in response to these findings, “Workplace flexibility has repeatedly demonstrated a remarkably tenacious streak during previous economic downturns. Erroneously labeled ‘soft’ by the uninformed, flexibility practices appear to be holding their own in these particularly tough times.  Flexibility requires little to no monetary investment because at its core, it’s a management philosophy.  It may morph and adapt, but it will most definitely survive.”

Understandably, these findings about the resilience of flexibility are somewhat counter-intuitive in the face of the worst recession in a lifetime. I have heard , “I find those results hard to believe given that we are hearing anecdotally that people are afraid to ask for anything.”  Let’s think about how we defined work life flexibility in the survey: “Having flexibility in when, where and how you work.  It allows you to flexibly allocate time and energy between your work life and personal life.”

To me this says that people do have flexibility, but perhaps it’s not exactly the flexibility they would want (we will talk more about this in a minute).  For example, someone may want to reduce their schedule, and they haven’t pursued it, but they do have day-to-day flexibility or the ability to telecommute…(Click here for more)

One thought on “Fast Company: Time to Move from “If” Flex to “How” and “Why” Flex…

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