In the past 2 years I have spent some of my free time trying to understand what makes the work-life balance equation work and how we can improve it. One key thing to me is increasing awareness on the fact that in our work life there is no one-fits-all format for our personal success, development and for our productivity. When it comes to work schedules, the need for flexible working for many talented, successful people is tangible and due to different reasons: family needs, sports passions, hobbies, freedom to manage your time, place of work and schedule when possible. Although we are a long way away from many openly recognizing this without fearing any stigma, we are also slowly making progress in understanding what would improve our quality of life.
So where do we stand in 2015 on flexible and part time working and why is flexible working still in many cases considered a career killer? How can we move away from the `one-fits-all` Monday-to-Friday, 8am to 6pm working hours without negatively impacting our careers and so ultimately our balance? Many companies and governments, one for all the UK (read article here) offer tangible flexible work options, but either policies are in place but line manager dependency is too high so they can`t be implemented, or these options make many fear for their careers if not for their jobs because of often incorrect cultural associations.
I was only delighted when yet one extraordinary example of leadership and open mentality was given last week by Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group: `Through a number of flexible working initiatives – like working from home, unlimited leave, integrated technology, and wellbeing in the workplace – we treat our employees like the capable adults they are. This is one of the reasons why we attract such brilliant staff: it’s easier to attract top talent when you are open and flexible. It’s not effective or productive to force them to behave in a conventional way. There are commercial benefits to smart working too, including the potential reduction of real estate costs.` (read the full article `Flexible working is smart working` ). And the lack of this understanding is one of the reasons why great companies lose great talents.
Other interesting examples of companies at the forefront on the topic were mentioned during the last event I organized for my company`s internal women business network, where we had Ambassador Suzi LeVine, US Ambassador to Switzerland and Lichetenstein, as our inspiring guest: `…to help empower dads, companies like Reddit and Facebook have up to 17 weeks of paid paternity leave; Netflix leaves it up to the employee to get their work done – but doesn’t hold them accountable for vacation/sick/family care days; and Automattic – the company that makes WordPress – allows its employees to work wherever in the world they want to. In fact, they have 270 employees scattered across more than 141 cities in 28 countries and has no set vacation policy. With policies and programs like these – people can define success for themselves – no matter what they “do” `
Looking forward to hearing your views on such an interesting topic!