In Praise of Flexible Workplace Cultures

Last week, I wrote about work-family culture, and the questions The Families and Work Institute uses to assess this part of organizational culture.  I hope you enjoyed it (and I can wait for you here if you want to refer back.  Ok, ready?).  Now, here are the Families and Work Institute’s measures for general autonomy and flexibility:

  1. I have the freedom to decide what I do on my job
  2. It is basically my own responsibility to decide how my job gets done
  3. I have a lot of say about what happens on my job
  4. How easy is it for you to take time off during your workday to take care of personal or family matters (I reworded this item to keep the response scale consistent)

Now, let’s think about these, in comparison to the work-family questions from the prior post

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What’s the Work-Family Culture Like in Your Workplace?

The Families and Work Institute has been surveying people about work and family issues for the past two decades in their National Studies of the Changing Workforce.  If you follow their results over time, it is encouraging to note that more and more respondents report that their workplaces and jobs are more flexible and supportive than ever.  There is a still a long way to go, and progress is stronger in some industries and for certain types of jobs. And, while workplaces have become, in general, more flexible and “family friendly”, the pressures and expectations to devote more and more hours either at work or working on job responsibilities continue to increase.

In this post, I’d like to share with you the questions the Families and Work Institute asks in their surveys in terms of workplace flexibility and support for balancing work and family roles.  This may help you think through and assess how your workplace stacks up, and what barriers or supports you may face in your workplace. 

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New York Times Op-Ed Piece Commentary: Susan Lambert is Right, But This is Not Only a Women’s Issue

I generally agree with the sentiment in this excellent NYT op-ed piece by Susan Lambert of the University of Chicago from last Thursday (Sept 20, 2012).  In it she argues that women on the low end of the wage scale are hurt by unpredictable and inconsistent work schedules (e.g., waitress shifts) and women on the high end of the wage scale are hurt by increasingly long time demands.

However, I find it limiting that her piece is written as if these are challenges unique to working women.  It seems to me that men face many of the same problems with their work schedules and demands, and that they would also benefit from the proposed reforms Dr. Lambert argues for. 

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