Posts Tagged “work flexibility”

LIVE 5/8 in NYC FREE Event and Book! It’s Not About “Balance”–Your Work-Life Can Be “Flexible”

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I am very excited to offer this special opportunity courtesy of Regus, the world’s largest provider of flexible workplaces.

Join me LIVE for a FREE Event and Book  in New York City on Wednesday, May 8, 6:30pm – 8:00pm.  

I will help celebrate the grand opening of the Regus’ first-ever, ground level Business Lounge, 747 Third Avenue in New York City, which is conveniently located in Midtown at 46th and Third.

I will share my newest thinking about work+life flexibility–where we are, where it’s going, what people and businesses need to do better and smarter for flexible work success.

AND, if you are one of the first 50 attendees, you will receive a complimentary signed copy of my new book, TWEAK IT: Make What Matters to You Happen Every Day!  

This event could not happen at a better time.

The incredible news firestorm around Yahoo’s and Best Buy’s decision to end their work-from-home policies got the whole country thinking about the notion of being able to work more flexibly.  From the C-suite to front line managers in charge of a stressed and exhausted workforce, the conversation around the “new way to work” has never been more top of mind.

There are even bottom line issues for companies to consider – “if I create more opportunities for people to work from anywhere, can I trim by real estate costs?” not to mention employee retention and improved morale.

Why is Regus sponsoring this event?  Regus has also been a champion of working flexibly since the late 1980s, and has locations in 600 cities in nearly 100 countries.   And they believe the new Business Lounge will be life-changing for any New Yorker looking for a professional alternative to coffee shops and make-shift offices for less than the cost of a daily latte.

I agree!  Check it out, get a book, and say “hi.”  Hope to see you, your friends, your colleagues there.

Why Is It “Flex+Strategy Group” AND “Work+Life Fit Inc.” ?

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(This article appeared in our weekly email newsletter. Click here to get your copy delivered to your mailbox.) 

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.”

Do you have a question you want to ask or a comment you want to share? Connect with us in the way that is most comfortable for you:

• Comment on the Work+Life Fit blog
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How to Communicate, Collaborate and Coordinate for Flexible Work Success

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(This post originally appeared in FastCompany.com)

Life was simpler when we worked 9-to-5, in the same office, on the same days, and we had the evenings and weekends to take care of the other parts of life. Today, more of us work from different locations and across time zones, and, if we aren’t careful, our other priorities get lost in the shuffle.

We can telework from home two days a week to avoid sitting in traffic, or shift our hours to meet the plumber before going to the office. But to do this successfully, we have to coordinate, collaborate, and communicate with others in a way that wasn’t necessary back in those simpler days.

My experience is that many people still don’t understand what this extra level of effort looks like in action. Here’s how three people recently figured it out and found satisfaction on and off the job.

“I’ve Accepted That I’m a Coordinator”

Rich is the owner of a small accounting firm, and divorced father of two who shares custody with his ex-wife. He has office space, but for the most part he and his staff work remotely from their respective homes.

He’s a believer in work flexibility. But he had to read my new book, TWEAK IT, before he understood that the coordination he did on a regular basis was a necessity, and not an annoying burden:

“One thing I’ve accepted about my work+life fit is that I’m basically a ‘coordinator.’ I feel like I spend a decent part of my day organizing things. In the beginning, it made me mad. But now I realize that part of my life really is about arranging my work, my kids, friends, girlfriend, my own stuff, etc. It’s very key to getting everything done. And if I don’t take the time to get it right, then many things can suffer.”

“It Never Crossed My Mind to Collaborate with My Colleagues”

This past week I got a call from a senior level administrator at a nonprofit. He didn’t want to retire completely for a while, but he was interested in proposing a plan that would allow him to work remotely for a period of time each year in order to be closer to his grandchildren.

We talked about his job responsibilities, and whether or not they could be done well if he weren’t in the office regularly. For the most part, the answer was “yes,” except for the rare instances when a particular issue flared up. His physical presence would be required; however, another senior person could step in initially until he got there. Although these events were infrequent, they were important. And if he couldn’t figure out how to address them, his superiors would have trouble supporting his proposal.

I suggested that he reach out to a few of his peers at similar levels and ask if they would be willing to play the “on call role” for him. And then, to make it fair, offer to cover for them on vacation, or in a way that would be most helpful to their work+life fit.

He paused and responded, “It never crossed my mind to collaborate with colleagues, but that makes complete sense for all of us.”

“I Could Ask My Team to Call Me If They Really Need Me”

The truth is that we don’t talk to each other when we want to work flexibly throughout the day.

In our national 2011 Work+Life Fit Reality Check survey, we asked, “When you make those occasional changes in how, when and where you work, who do you discuss those changes with?”:
• 79% said “your supervisor”
• 63% said “your spouse, family or partner”
• 52% said “your colleagues”
• 45% said “those you supervise”

Imagine how much easier it would be to come in a few minutes later in the morning so that you can meet the plumber, or leave a few minutes earlier to attend your son’s soccer game, if we communicated with and supported each other more openly.

For one woman who recently attended a speech I gave, the challenge was to stop always eating lunch at her desk. She genuinely felt that if she walked away for 30 minutes, something would happen and, therefore, she could never leave.

I challenged her. “Is there another way you could be available but not necessarily at your desk eating?” She responded, “Well, I guess I could bring my phone with me, and I ask my team to call me if they really needed me.” She hadn’t thought to ask.

If we want to take back our life, we have to coordinate, collaborate, and communicate with each other in a way that wasn’t required in the past. And many of us still don’t understand what that means or looks like. As the stories above illustrate, the potential personal and professional payoffs make the effort worth it.

How do you coordinate, collaborate, and communicate with others so that what matters to you–on and off the job–actually happens?

For more, I invite you to: Connect with my on Twitter @caliyost and “Like” our Work+Life Fit Facebook page.

My CNN Headline News “Work+Life Fit (Not Balance) is an Everyone Issue” Segment

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Yesterday, I appeared on CNN Headline News to discuss the work+life “fit” issues raised in Sunday’s New York Times article “When the Work-Life Scales are Unequal.”

Cali Williams Yost, CNN Headline News (9/4/12)

My keys points in the segment were that we need to:

  • De-parent and de-gender the conversation about work and life.  In our modern, hectic world, we all need flexibility and support to manage our responsibilities on and off the job.
  • Communicate and coordinate with each other more effectively to get our jobs done, and to make what matters to us in our personal lives happen as often as possible.  This mutually-beneficial collaboration and coverage model replaces the traditional “9-5, in the office, Monday-Friday” boundaries that used to tell us when work ended and our personal lives began that no longer exist.
  • Stop seeking work-life “balance” because it doesn’t exist.  All we can find is our own work+life “fit” and do it in a way that considers our needs and the needs of the business, our manager, and team.
  • Do a better job planning the personal activities and priorities we want to make part of our week.  See where there might be a conflict with work and identify whom you need to coordinate with.

What I didn’t get a chance to say is when you initiate that work+life fit coordination discussion with your colleagues, focus on “how” you are going to get your job done, and not on “why” you need to work differently.  It makes that conversation more productive and more likely to result in a mutually-beneficial outcome.

Talking Work+Life “Fit” on CBS Radio Career Coach Caroline Podcast

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On Tuesday, August 14th, I was a guest on the CBS Radio Career Coach Caroline Show.  During the show, Coach Caroline and I talked about the common work+life “fit” questions that many people have (for a list of the questions covered, see below).  Here is a link to the podcast: http://bit.ly/Pa8JZh.

  • Why is there no work-balance? How do we handle the different levels of comfort with technology and work flexibility in the workplace?
  • When you want to work more flexibly, why is it important to focus on “how” the work will get done and not on “why” you want more flexibility?
  • Why is piloting work flexibility for a period of time such a powerful option?
  • What is the risk of disconnecting from the workforce for long periods of time? How can you avoid that?
  • Why is it so important for men to participate in the work-life discussion?
  • Do you think young women hold themselves in their careers because of pre-mature concerns about how they will manage their work and life in the future? What could they do differently?

If you haven’t already, I invite you to follow me and Career Coach Caroline on Twitter @caliyost and @cdowdhiggins.

Avoid the Five Mistakes That Keep Your Life Unbalanced and Your Workplace Inflexible

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I’ve decided to use Slide Share more often to share the PowerPoint slides from some of my speeches. Here is the slide deck from this week’s Jam Session for 85 Broads! Let me know if you find it helpful.

Focus on “How” Not the “Why” for Flexible Work Success

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What’s one of the biggest mistakes that I see people make when they present a proposal to work more flexibly to their manager? They focus on “why” they want to work differently, when they should emphasize “how” they are going to get their job done.

Here’s a true story that a manager shared with me that perfectly illustrates the different response you will get.

A young man walks into the manager’s office.  He explains that he’d like to talk about shifting his hours to come in by 11:00 am on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and leave later in the evening. This new schedule will help him train for a marathon, “because it’s getting too dark to run at night.” The manager confessed that his response was, “Yeah, and I’d like to ride in a hot air balloon on Wednesdays.  I’m going to have to say ‘No’.”

Thankfully, the young man came back the next day and took a different approach. He never mentioned marathon training. Instead he focused on how he would get his work done with the new schedule, how he would communicate with customers and his team, and how he would come in if something important needed to get done.  And he would be happy to review the flexible work plan in three months. The manager thought about it and responded, “Okay, let’s give it a shot.”

The manager telling the story said that the first time he felt like he was being asked to do an unreasonable favor. But the second time, the young man had reframed the proposal as a win-win and he felt comfortable saying “yes.” Same proposal, different response.

This is even more critical when you are asking for flexibility to address a personal issue that would be very difficult to say “no” to based on the reason alone…(For more go to Forbes.com)

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6 Ways to Promote Work Flexibility Culture Change

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Our client, the professional services firm BDO, recently produced a short video about their award-winning approach to work and life flexibility.  Here are the six lessons every organization can takeaway from the clip to help better position flexible work as part of the culture, or the way the business and people operate every day:

Lesson 1: Language matters. BDO Flex is a “strategy.”  It’s about getting work done, serving clients, and managing people.  It’s not a program or policy.  There are policies to support various aspects of the strategy (e.g. compensation, telework equipment) but “flexibility” itself is not a policy.  There are programs that use BDO Flex, but “flexibility” is not a program.

Lesson 2: The employee AND the business must succeed for flexibility to work. All of the stories and key themes in the video reinforce the point of “dual” benefit and impact:

  • ReThink–The possibilities are endless
  • ReFresh–You work hard. Use Flex to recharge
  • ReDefine–Don’t accept business as usual
  • ReDiscover–Don’t lose sight of your dreams
  • ReAssure–Small changes can make a big impact

Lesson 3: Take the time and invest the resources to create a shared vision of success that anchors the strategy. It took months for the firm to create the “BDO Thrives on Flexibility” vision statement, but that process changed hearts and minds and created a shared understanding which moved the culture.

Lesson 4: Flexibility is not just about formal flexible work arrangements. It’s about both formal and informal, day-to-day flexibility in how, when and where you work and manage your life. It’s not an “arrangement,” but a well thought out plan tailored to meet your unique needs and the needs of the business.

Lesson 5: Men and women want and use work flexibility. Work flexibility is not a women’s issue.  It’s a strategy to help all people fit the unique pieces of their lives together in a competitive, hectic, global economy and for businesses to work smarter and better.

Lesson 6: Flexibility is not about child care only. Yes, parents absolutely need to work flexibly; however, as the video shows so do employees who have spouses who relocate, who have a passion for ballroom dancing or cartoon drawing, and who want to stay healthy.  And it’s for leaders who want to reduce the level of employee burnout and service clients better.

What other lessons did you learn from watching how one organization is talking about and positioning strategic flexibility in their business?  What is your organization doing?

If you haven’t already, I invite you to connect with me on Twitter @caliyost!

NEW 2011 Work+Life Fit Reality Check Survey (4th Edition) Results Released

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DESPITE RECENT RECESSION, NEW RESEARCH FINDS FINANCIAL & JOB INSECURITIES NOT THE BIGGEST OBSTACLES TO WORK LIFE FLEXIBILITY

Time & Workload are the Problem in 4th Edition of Work+Life Fit Reality Check; Survey Shows Notable Shifts in Work Life Flexibility Concerns, Satisfaction and Use over Five Year Period

June 9, 2011 – Just as employees have gotten comfortable with the idea of work life flexibility, worrying less about the impact it has on their paychecks or careers, new research shows increased workloads or no time are now the biggest obstacles.  The finding is from the 2011 Work+Life Fit™ Reality Check, a telephone survey of a national probability sample of 637 full-time employed adults, sponsored by Work+Life Fit, Inc. and conducted by Opinion Research Corporation March 3 – 7, 2011.

The current Work+Life Fit Reality Check, first conducted in 2006, has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent and also found:

  • During the recession, about nine out of ten respondents said that their use of work life flexibility either increased (11%) or stayed the same (76%).
  • While in the recovery, nine out of ten felt their level of use of work life flexibility would increase (10%) or stay the same (82%).
  • Compared to this time last year, more than eight out of ten report they have the same (66%) or an increased amount (17%) of work life flexibility.
  • Without work life flexibility, 66% believe the business suffers with employee health, morale and productivity as the most affected areas.
  • Looking for a new job is the plan for more than one-third (35%); 33% of those cite a more flexible schedule and 25% the ability to telework as a reason.  (Job search questions sponsored by CareerOwners.com.)

“Whatever flexibility there was before the downturn survived, indicating it is here to stay in good times and bad.  Work life flexibility withstood its toughest test and continues to grow,” said Cali Williams Yost, CEO, Work+Life Fit, Inc.  “But – just when employees start to worry less about using flexibility – now they think they’re too busy to do so.  Clearly, both organizations and employees struggle with how to make flexibility work as a meaningful and deliberate part of the way we manage our business, work and lives.”

Yost will discuss the findings at a free webinar Tuesday, June 14 at 1 p.m. EST. Register at http://bit.ly/myQLyR.

Obstacles Evolve and Put Organizations at Risk

Fewer respondents report obstacles to using or improving their work life flexibility, 61% in 2011 compared to 76% in 2006.  The most cited (29%) obstacle in 2011 was “increased workload or no time for flexibility.”  But, despite going through one of the worst economic recessions ever, financial and perception worries have progressively become less problematic.

  • You might make less money:  21% in 2011 versus 45% in 2006
  • You might lose your job:  16% in 2011 versus 28% in 2006
  • Others will think you don’t work hard:  11% in 2011 versus 39% in 2006
  • You worry that your boss would  say “no”:  13% in 2011 versus 32% in 2006

“These findings are proof that the workplace has become more comfortable with flexibility.  The challenge is to continue to address roadblocks that often unnecessarily hinder how we optimize and benefit from flexibility personally and organizationally,” Yost said.  “Flexibility should be used to manage increased workflows and dwindling resources, not be avoided because of them.”

Otherwise, 66% of those surveyed indicated the possible risks that result from a lack of work life flexibility.

  • Health is affected—you’re stressed or lack time for exercise: 48%
  • Morale is affected—you don’t feel good about working at your company or organization: 41%
  • Productivity is affected—you can’t get your work done as fast as you like: 36%
  • Focus and attention, or engagement, is affected—you can’t concentrate the way you would like to on your work: 34%
  • Loyalty is affected—you’re not as committed to your employer and/or boss: 34%
  • Creativity is affected—you have a harder time problem solving or coming up with new ideas: 31%

“Organizations and employees must move forward together taking a hard look at what, how, when and where work is best performed; how technology can support – not overwhelm – that work; and why they should champion flexibility as an operational and financial tool.  The time has passed for seeing flexibility simply as a perk offered at certain ideal times,” Yost explained.

Get the complete Executive Summary of 2011 Work+Life Fit Reality Check survey

Get Takeaway Tips for Employers from the survey findings

Get Takeaway Tips for Individuals from the survey findings

Connect with @caliyost on Twitter, and in the “Make Flexibility Real” LinkedIn group.