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Tag Archives: Flex Time

by Erin L. Kelly and Phyllis Moen

Overworked? Overwhelmed? You’re not alone. Seventy percent of employed Americans say work interferes with their non-work lives. Over half feel they don’t have enough time with their children or spouses. This isn’t just one group: it’s mothers, fathers, married workers, singles, Boomers, GenXers and Millennials.

“Work-life balance” has been discussed for 40 years and many companies have tried to address the issue. Seventy-seven percent of workplaces with more than 50 employees allow some employees to change their schedules and 63% allow some regular work to be done at home. Unfortunately, flextime, telecommuting and shifting to part-time hours are usually provided as “accommodations” to help a few employees.

The root problem, of course, isn’t that employees have family or personal commitments. The root problem is the rigid conventions of work that assume work must occur at certain times and places and that mistakenly gauge productivity by the number of hours spent at work.

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by Robin J. Ely and Irene Padavic

Flexible work arrangements are widely championed as remedies for the dearth of women in senior leadership positions. Women “opt-out” when the demands of work and family conflict, so letting them telecommute or work part time facilitates work-life balance, allowing them to stay on the career track. Or so the narrative goes.

In reality, the success of these “family-friendly” policies has been uneven. They are often underused — and for good reason. Research shows that employees who take advantage of “flex” policies are typically removed from the fast track, derailing their career progress. Moreover, these programs have not increased the number of women in senior leadership roles.

Perhaps this is because they do not solve the right problem.

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