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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Flexibility Without Fear: A Post for National #FlexDay

The good people at Working Mother have decided that October 15 will be the first ever "National Flex Day" (warning: this link has a video that autoplays), "to uncover and celebrate the power of flex and advocate its use for all employees." Hear, hear!

I've been using a flexible schedule since I went back to work when Hannah was 12 weeks old. I went back to work with an 8 am to 4 pm schedule so that I could pick her up around 5 pm, and get more time with her in the evenings. At another point in my career I did the later shift, working from 9:30 to 5:30. Then I started my work at home Tuesdays. When Marissa Mayer called all Yahoo employees back to the office, I defended flexible work arrangements in The Boston Globe. And when Marc started a new job last year, I went back to working 8 to 4 so I could manage pick up in the evenings.

I've written a lot about flexibility: how my employer gets a more loyal and dedicated employee, how I'm more productive on the days I don't have to commute, how I can take care of small things around the house without losing time at work. I also don't mind doing work during an occasional evening or weekend day, especially when I've been able to take a sick kid to the doctor or make the school play that week because of that flexibility. I'm incredibly grateful to have not only an employer that allows flexibility, but a career that also helps me have it.

But one part of the whole thing that doesn't work for me is the fear that I have in using the flexibility. I'm keenly aware of my schedule, and hate being late to work because I already feel like I'm leaving early (despite having put in a full work day). I hate having to dial in to meetings that wouldn't have required a conference call otherwise. I don't like picking up voicemails, and calling coworkers back from my (strange to them) home phone number. I don't like having to remind people that I'm out every Tuesday, or can't stay for that 4 pm meeting. It's not easy to be flexible when it feels like you're the only one doing it.

Yet the rest of my life wouldn't be possible without the flexibility. I need to pick up my kids each day. I need to fill the gap of time on Tuesdays. I need to be in the office a lot of time too, but I am more than capable of doing a lot of my job remotely. And I need to believe that it's 100% okay for me to do all that, without fear that I'm letting anyone down in some way. Because I'm not. I'm a "flex" success story, and I think in time, there will be more and more people working like me.

What about you? Do you have a flexible work arrangement, or an understanding employer? I'd love to hear your stories!

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