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Article by: Bridgette Klein — View more articles by Bridgette Klein

Posted on: November 12, 2019

OK Boomer, But Why Don’t You Allow a Flexible Work Schedule?

[Outraged by the title? Scroll to the bottom of this article for an explanation from a Millennial about the usage of “Ok Boomer.” Just know i Don't Mean it as attacking a generation, but a way of thinking]

Project plan with penFor me, scheduling and flexibility are everything. When I applied to Willory, I knew I was pregnant with my first (and only) child. I wasn’t applying everywhere, but the sense of family expressed on the website, and the opportunities to work remotely and on a flexible schedule were too good to pass up. However, I also knew I’d miss some of the in-person relationships, so I was ecstatic to find out there were regular opportunities to get together. The sense of community with our team and in-person guidance means a lot to me. I can emphatically say it has significantly helped me with my development in my role at Willory.

Some weeks for me are a comfortable 8-5, but others do require some shifting in my work schedule. When that’s the case, I coordinate to create a flexible work schedule, whether that’s late in the evening or starting earlier in the morning. This means I’m known as the go-to parent for my daughter’s preschool class when they need assistance for projects or chaperones for field trips. I am a better mom because I’m able to coordinate a fulfilling and progressive marketing career against being there for my daughter. Since my time working at Willory, I’ve begun to question why more organizations don’t offer flexible schedules to their employees. Virtual work environments and flexible work schedules can go in tandem, and you can give/receive better benefits with both, but it’s not always feasible to do so.

In my time with Willory, I’ve begun to seriously consider the dated opinion that you have to be present in an office for 8 hours a day to be productive. If we expect employees to give us their best when at work, why don’t we set them up for success instead of commanding a rigid schedule that frequently stresses people out? While I believe you get the best benefits from a flexible work schedule when you combine it with a virtual environment, I also recognize that it isn’t always feasible.

Because my employees work in manufacturing, medicine, retail, and/or food services.

I’ll get this out of the way first: not all industries, jobs, companies are capable of offering flexible work schedules. Jobs that require shifts, especially in manufacturing, medicine, retail, and/or food service, cannot have constant changes to their schedules. In these circumstances, you need certain people at certain places at exact times.

Did you know roughly 70% of manufacturers and retailers use some flexible work schedules?

So you might not be able to offer come-when-you-want scheduling, but have you talked to your employees about their ideal schedule? Maybe instead of starting a shift at 2 pm, they have good reasons for that shift to begin at 1 pm or 3 pm. Employee satisfaction comes from engaging them and listening to their ideas. Not all ideas are good, but they may have some authentically good changes.

You can probably stop here; the rest of this blog isn’t for you.

Because then I won’t know when they’re working.

The majority of flexible work schedules aren’t predicated on letting employees work whenever they want. It’s about collaborating on a schedule that mutually works for the company and the employee. If you’re managing a team, make sure everyone understands the variations to schedules and the parameters to follow (for example, there must be one person working between standard working hours).

Allowing for flexibility means that they might not be stressing about driving during rush hour, making commitments, or childcare.

Because I’m worried they won’t be productive with a flexible schedule.

Do you really want to employ people you don’t trust to be productive, no matter when they work? I can understand the fear when implementing this with your current employees. You may have a few that you’re not sure can handle a flexible work schedule, but you don’t want to lose them. That’s when it’s up to you to have a candid conversation with them to ensure expectations are set and met.

Knowing that I can adjust my schedule helps keep me focused and on task. I’m less worried about scheduling my life around work and more focused on high-result activities at the right times. Some ways I ensure balance while hitting my targets are:

  • Calendar blocking
  • Knowing and understanding my annual goals. I then break those down quarterly, monthly, and daily to maintain productivity
  • Open communication with my manager and team about my schedule and my priorities
  • I plan my schedule monthly and weekly and prioritize daily
  • Working in the evening when there are fewer distractions and I’m more creative (my best work typically happens around 2 am)

Because I don’t want the expense of maintaining the building for all hours.

I understand that budgets and other economic factors are enormous when making decisions. Keeping security and lights on for one person doesn’t quite make sense. This is when allowing the flexibility to work from another location comes into play. Most organizations already provide employees with laptops or keep files online. If someone wants to start working at 5 am, and the building doesn’t open until 8 am, let them work for those hours and then come in. If they’re a trustworthy and productive employee, you’ll see more significant results.

I’m afraid they’ll be successful outside of work and leave.

In our fast-paced digital world, many professionals of all ages have entrepreneurial ventures as well as professional ambitions. We aren’t willing to give up our passions, but we still have a desire to work a corporate job. In this situation, a flexible work schedule is a perfect solution.

We live in a world where an employer can provide more than a place to work and a paycheck but the opportunity to grow, learn, and with the freedom to flourish in and outside of work. The things we do outside of work affect us just as much as the things we do while we are at work. As Willory friend and my sales coach says, “you are more than your job.” If we feel happy and fulfilled, we continue to grow and produce better results. If we feel drained and burnt out, that will only create a poor performance and lack of motivation. If an employee quits because they launched a successful venture, then that’s okay. Chances are they’ll be willing able to help you find their replacement, and you’re a valuable part of their success story. Isn’t it better to foster their passion instead of them succeeding in spite of you?

 

 

To all the Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials in leadership positions: I understand there are more considerations when determining if your organization can implement a flexible work schedule. It’s something that leadership and HR professionals have to take careful consideration when evaluating and updating their policies and procedures to allow for flexible work schedules. It might not be the most natural initiative in the beginning, but the advantages of employee satisfaction, engagement, retention, productivity, and happiness should pay off significantly. So why can’t you at least try it out?

A note on “OK Boomer”: In November 2019, the term “OK Boomer” became popular slang from the younger generations as a criticism for the way they perceive the older generations as unwilling to change and resistant to new ideas. It gained popularity on TikTok and is usually accompanied by a  literal or virtual eye roll. While most likely initiated by Generation Z, Millennials have embraced the trend. For some it’s a way of turning the tides on the idea of “Millennials killing” traditional brands, and for others it’s a way to highlight the differences between pre- and post-Great Recession mindsets. Instead of seeing the term as pejorative, see it as a chance to initiate conversation.

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