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10 Signs That Work+Life Flexibility Is Strategic, Not Just a Feel-Good Program

Someone recently asked me, “I hear what you say about flexibility needing to be strategic to be real, but what does that mean? What does it look like?” To answer this excellent question, here are 10 signs that will tell you whether work+life flexibility in your organization is a real strategy with broad impact or simply a program that sounds good, but doesn’t lead to meaningful change: Sign #1: It’s an employee-employer partnership where everyone understands their role and has the skills to make flexibility a win for the business and for individuals.

Someone recently asked me, “I hear what you say about flexibility needing to be strategic to be real, but what does that mean? What does it look like?”

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To answer this excellent question, here are 10 signs that will tell you whether work+life flexibility in your organization is a real strategy with broad impact or simply a program that sounds good, but doesn’t lead to meaningful change:

Sign #1: It’s an employee-employer partnership where everyone understands their role and has the skills to make flexibility a win for the business and for individuals.

Sign #2: It’s not driven solely by HR or the women’s initiative. It lives and breathes in the day-to-day reality of the culture and business as “Just the way we all work.”

Sign #3: When someone under 30 years old says, “I’m going to leave early but will finish this up at home tonight,” the first reaction from managers isn’t, “He doesn’t want to work hard.”

Sign #4: When a valuable team member approaches retirement, conversations start well in advance about how he or she might stay connected with a reduced schedule or working on a project-basis.

Sign #5: The careers of mothers who want flexibility to manage their work+life fit aren’t unfairly penalized because fathers and those caring for aging adults have just as much flexibility.

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Sign #6: When it snows, the company continues to operate because those with jobs that can be done remotely know how to work and coordinate.

Sign #7: When business declines, senior leaders first consider how to creatively use furloughs and reduced schedules to minimize layoffs before cutting.

Sign #8: All types of flexibility in how, when and where work is done are highlighted in the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Report to SEC.

Sign #9: When someone is on a call for three hours at night with an overseas client, they don’t need to be at their desk by nine o’clock the next day. And there’s a coordination of global time zone coverage within teams.

Sign #10: Formal flexible work arrangements are only part of a strategy that emphasizes day-to-day flexibility where everyone can make small flexible changes in how, when and where work is done as long as they consider their needs as well as the needs of the business.

There are more, but this is a start. What are some of the signs that you would add to the list that signal flexibility isn’t just a program, it’s strategic?

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