The word flexibility is quite subjective, with no one-size- fits all definition. One person’s flexible schedule might be an- other’s daily grind. Slightly easing off the work-week pedal for one person can feel like retirement to someone else, which is precisely the point. Flexibility is personal.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a flexible work schedule is an alternative to the traditional 9-to-5, 40- hour work week.9 Employees are given the opportunity to vary their arrival and/or departure times. Some policies state employees must work a mandated number of hours per pay period and be present during a daily “core time.”
My assistant Marybeth wanted a flexible schedule, and I was happy to accommodate. During the hours of 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Marybeth is focused on the work at hand, proving that a person can do her work in five hours as opposed to the standard eight hours. In fact, because she is working a truncated day, I believe it motivates her even more to avoid distraction or needless breaks. It is a tradeoff I am willing to make, as my travel schedule requires I have someone on the frontline who I trust and who is capable, as opposed to sitting around all day. My other assistant works a full-time job, so she comes in at 6 in the evening to handle office issues. I pile things up for her and as long as she can do the job in a timely and accurate manner, it doesn’t matter to me what time of the day it gets done.
Of course it depends on what kind of business a person is in, but I advise to err on the side of flexibility, especially with employees. Have policies, of course, but realize that they will only work 80 percent of the time. The other 20 percent, you have to expect unpredictability and be ready to adapt.
Flexibility with employees also helps you achieve your own work-life balance. Being flexible with my staff and clients means that my needs for flexibility are honored in return. Personally, I like to start work a little later in the day and end a bit earlier. Having a flexible culture allows me to take care of myself first; as we discussed in the chapter on patience, if we first tend to ourselves, we have more of ourselves to give to our customers and staff.