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We all have those moments when we realize that something so obvious to us is unclear to others. It happened to me the other day when the organizer of an event at which I am speaking said, “Why is your company called the Flex+Strategy Group / Work+Life Fit, Inc.?”
I love it when people ask this question, because it gives me an opportunity to explain the intentional symbolism behind the name. So in case you are also curious, here’s what I said:
Flex+Strategy / Work+Life Fit is the partnership that organizations and individuals need to create for flexible work to succeed. You can’t have one without the other.
It’s “Flex+Strategy” for business because flexibility in how, where and when work is done needs to be executed as part of organization’s overall plan to achieve its goals.
Unfortunately, a majority of leaders and employees don’t see work flexibility as a core strategy to get the job done and manage their lives. In most cases, it’s still perceived to be an optional, nice-to-have, perk or benefit. (2011 Work+Life FIt Reality Check). The goal of “Flex+Strategy” is to position work flexibility where it rightfully belongs so that both the business and people can benefit.
People can’t manage their work and life, day-to-day and at major transitions, if they don’t have flexibility in how, when and/or where they do their job, which brings us to “Work+Life Fit” for individuals.
If we stopped at “Flex+Strategy,” it would reinforce the outdated bias that organizations and managers need to do all of the heavy lifting when it comes to making work flexibility a success. That’s not accurate, but again that’s what most of us think. According to the 2011 Work+Life Fit Reality Check, 73% of respondents answered “true” to the statement, “work life flexibility is only possible if my employer and/or boss provide it.”
The reality is that your employer or boss can’t “give” you flexibility. They can support it as a core strategy (see above). But then it is up to each of us to capture what is available and use it to manage the unique fit between our responsibilities on and off the job, every day and at major life transitions.
In other words, your employer and boss can support working from home periodically, but they can’t tap you on the shoulder and say, “You know what. You need to get that leaky pipe in the basement fixed. Why don’t you work from home tomorrow and meet the plumber,” or “You must be thinking about retirement soon. Why don’t you put together a proposal to continue working as a consultant for the group?”
Initiating a plan that makes sense and then understanding how to coordinate, collaborate, and communicate responsibly to get the job gets done is up to us. This is a modern skill set we all need, but most of us don’t have. The good news is we can learn.
Organizations must directly link work flexibility and business strategy, and everyone needs to learn how to partner with their manager, customers, colleagues and family members for flexible work success, on and off the job. That’s why we are the “Flex+Strategy Group / Work+Life Fit, Inc.”
And with that the event organizer replied, “Got it.”
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