Welcome HBR Blog Readers- “Less Rigid Forms of Flexibility”

“The most important need for many employees is not to get away from work (through long leaves or part-time work), but to find satisfying ways to combine work and family life… These forms of everyday work flexibility are much more important than the more publicized forms of workplace flexibility such as mommy tracks or daddy tracks…. What we need are less rigid forms of work flexibility… that make it more likely that employees can maintain equal commitments between work and family”

-Work-Life Pioneer Tim Hall, as quoted in my new HBR Online article, Flex Time Doesn’t Need to be an HR Policy

Welcome to Fathers, Work and Family
Welcome to Fathers, Work and Family

Thank you for reading, and for visiting my site. For those of you who are visiting Fathers, Work and Family for the first time, feel free to have a look around. A link to my “Greatest Hits” here (I particularly recommend you read this and this), links to my work at HBR, The Wall Street Journal and Time, Good Men Project and Huffington Post, and my participation at the White House Working Families Summit up at the top of the page, category listings along the right-hand side, and of course, buttons you can use to follow Fathers, Work and Family via email, twitter or Facebook.

5 thoughts on “Welcome HBR Blog Readers- “Less Rigid Forms of Flexibility”

  1. That’s a fantastic point. The goal is to create better work/life blend – where it doesn’t feel that work is in conflict with the rest of your life.

    I worry that this won’t be meaningfully implemented in many companies while those who are in leadership still hold the old attitudes expecting commitment to your job means hours in your chair. Then there is a new challenge of the lean/agile development processes which create an inherent stress that cause employees to need to spend extended hours at work to meet the commitments that have been given to them without consideration of how these development projects will impact their lives. The tech world lives in a bubble of “we need to be first to market, and we need to quote shorter lead times then our competitors” which has created a literal race that the only winners are the stock-holders. Companies need to push back their expectations on the pace of development to make meaningful change for the designers and engineers who are dealing with this.

    • You are correct that leadership needs to see the importance of taking a longer term approach to employees. Ive written both here and at hbr about the negative effects of chronic overwork on employees and how it diminishes prrformance over time.
      Some companies are getting it, but, as you correctly note, many more are still in churn and burn mode.
      Thanks for reading and your comment!

  2. Hi Scott,
    I think this is a great article that hits on a truly important point – specifically that in a time when work expectations seem to be increasing (i.e. one may be expected to reply to an important email at any time of day or night) the line between “work time” and “non-work time” is increasingly blurred. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing at all, IF it goes both ways.

    For myself personally, I have always found myself occasionally thinking about work while not “in the building” and have also occasionally been distracted while “in the building” by personal things that were happening at the moment. I never saw the sense in forcing me to deal with one when it wasn’t important, especially while the other WAS important at the same time.

    Not all employers see it that way, and I also understand that my perspective is limited (I’m a technology worker so it’s perhaps more possible for me to have valuable work-related time while at home than, say, someone whose job requires them to physically be on-site in order to accomplish it). Still, I’m confounded by managers who can’t seem to accept that “life happens” or who manage as if each person were a machine.

    For me, I’ve gone through many “adventures” that are likely worthy of study, or at the very least prove the points you often write about. In the end, I’ve settled in a place where it’s more important that I get all the important things done than that I’m in my chair at specific times. I give up something in salary, etc. for that, but to me it’s more than worth it in what I get back with my family AND my satisfaction with my career and the understanding that my employer values my contribution over appearances.

    It’s a luxury not everyone can afford, but hopefully, thanks to the good work you’re doing, it will become increasingly common and perhaps even a commodity in the future.

    Here’s to the day where everyone has the opportunity to make meaningful contributions at the time when it most makes sense!

    • Hi Ernie. What a great comment! There is so much youve touched on- workplace expectations, spillover of work to life and life to work, formal and informal flexibility, managerial attitudes, tradeoffs in working more flexibly, etc. I dont know if I can top that! (I would love it if you could copy this comment at hbr)

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