For my entire adult life I have worked. I’ve also been lucky enough to have jobs I cared about. I like working. It provides me with challenge and a place to apply my skills. I work during vacations. I work on weekends. But I don’t work ALL the time. There are times I need to focus on myself, my non-work relationships, among other things. I’ve recently become a parent. I was already a step parent. So now I have a 12 year old and an infant at home.  And now, after a few months away, I’m back at work. My life is dynamic, and I like my work schedule to be that way, too.

I remember when I got my first 8-to-5 job someone congratulated me on my first “real” job. I thought it was a weird thing to say. The work I had been doing up until that point seemed pretty “real” to me – in some ways it was more real. I was working 3 (sometimes more) jobs and going to school. The notion of “real” work being an exclusive of the 8-to-5 crowd bothered me then and it bothers me now.  Getting work done happens in a lot of ways, in a lot of places, and at different times.

For that reason, I’m pleased to see more and more organizations embrace flex-work options. I grew up working an odd assortment of hours in order to get it all done. I learned at a young age that I work best when I have the flexibility to do my best work. That might mean working a few very long days and then having a half day to recover.  I don’t see the sense of arbitrary work hours. Very few of the tasks on my work “to do” list have to be done between 8am and 5pm, nor do they need to be done at an office. I only need a laptop, wi-fi and some coffee.  Luckily, my boss trusts me to get the job done. Not all my colleagues “get it” though.

While there are still jobs where productivity is measured in the hours spent at the workplace, there are increasingly jobs that require a different take on work (flextime certainly doesn’t work for all jobs). There’s also research indicating that flexible work options can benefit the employer as well as the employee (check out this recent headline).

So why are we holding so tightly to an 8-to-5 world of work when we are “going global” and uber connected 24/7? Why is flextime seen as an employee benefit when there’s evidence that the employer benefits as well?

~Kelly Hannum

photo by Clix

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