One of my primary goals is to expand the work+life conversation to include all of the countless reasons for adjusting your work+life “fit” over the course of your life and career.
We hear a lot about the challenges of working while caring for children or an aging relative. We are beginning to talk more about finding creative ways work in retirement. Yet, there is one work+life goal that is important to many people but we don’t hear about. It involves adjusting your work+life fit in order to have multiple careers or to pursue an avocation, and it’s the subject of the new book, One Person/Multiple Careers: A New Model for Work/Life Success, by my friend Marci Alboher.
Not only does Marci share the stories of over 60 people who have found what she calls their “/” career, but she lays out how you can do it too. For example, an interesting common theme involves professionals—lawyers, accountants, etc.—who want to pursue endeavors in the arts. A “/” allows them to continue to support themselves financially in one job that many of them enjoy without sacrificing the ability to also pursue a creative career as well. In fact, one accountant showcased is also a cartoonist.
The other day I was on the phone with a colleague who obviously had a terrible cold. She said, “I sound worse than I feel. You know if I had gone into an office today, I would have gotten everyone else sick. Instead I am working from home because I don’t feel sick enough not to work, but I don’t feel well enough to haul myself out of my house.”
Imagine how many fewer sick days companies would have to pay for (in terms of lost productivity) if employees not sick enough to be bed-ridden, but sick enough to be contagious worked from home. I couldn’t help thinking of the cost-benefit analysis: fewer people sick overall, and more people working at least partially, instead of not at all, equals more productivity. In fact, companies, like Lehman Brothers, consider their flexibility strategy to be a critical crisis management tool in the event of something like a potential avian flu outbreak.
And it’s not just winter illnesses. What about the weather? The 10 feet of snow in upstate New York, and our current snow storm got me thinking of the power of flexibility to allow companies to run in spite of such unpredictable weather challenges.
Please excuse my absence last week, but sadly we just found out that my mother’s Stage 4 lung cancer has returned. While we aren’t sure exactly what this means, I will share in my Success Magazine blog posting later this week how I’ve begun to rethink my work+life fit and revisit my definition of success in order to support her.
Work+Life “Fit” Blog: Breaking Down Stereotypes #6 – Even though my company supports it, it really isn’t “okay” to use flexibility
Drum roll, please…the final work+life stereotype we will break down is: “Even though my company supports it, it really isn’t okay to use flexibility.” This is the reason 32% of the Work+Life Fit Reality Check survey respondents gave for not improving their work-life “balance.”
Over the past decade, I have heard this excuse countless times and it continues to fascinate me, because there are usually no facts to back it up. Notice the survey question begins, “Even though my company supports it.” In other words, this belief prevails even when a company has offered flexibility and other programs or policies to help its employees achieve work-life “balance.” Furthermore, I often hear experts commenting on the subject of work-life “balance,” say the answer is that, “Companies have to do more,” but what if they are and employees aren’t using it?