June 12, 2011
Are workers becoming more comfortable with flexibility?
A new national survey says yes. According to survey sponsor Work+Life Fit, Inc., which helps companies create flexibility programs, today's full-time workers are less worried than they used to be that having a flexible work schedule will affect their paycheck or their career.
In 2006, 45 percent of survey respondents worried that flexible work was synonymous with making less money. Today that figure is only 21 percent. Likewise, 28 percent of those polled in 2006 feared that telecommuting or a flexible schedule could cost them their job. In 2001, just 16 percent of respondents shared that concern.
Those aren't the only fears about flexibility that have dissipated in the past five years. In 2006, 32 percent of respondents fretted that their boss would decline their request for flexible work. This year, just 13 percent said they felt that way. What's more, 39 percent of respondents worried in 2006 that others might consider them a slacker for maintaining a flexible work schedule. Today only 11 percent voiced that concern.
Based on the responses of 637 full-time workers from all rungs of the corporate ladder, these findings also lay to rest the fear that the recession has damaged work/life balance programs. Almost nine in ten workers polled said that during the recession their use of flexible work options stayed the same or increased. And four of five respondents said that they have the same level flexibility at work or more this year than they did in 2010.
Of course, not all workers have the amount of on-the-job flexibility they want. A majority of those polled said their flexible work options could stand some improvement. Nearly a third of them blamed their lack of work/life balance on an "increased workload" or "no time for flexibility."
For those who can relate to the above paragraph, Cali Williams Yost of Work+Life Fit offers these reminders:
Fears about flexibility shouldn't be confused with facts. Don't give up before you even try. Get to know the attitude toward telecommuting and flexible schedules at your company -- and the related compensation policies.
Flexibility isn't an all-or-nothing prospect. Your department or company may not offer a formal flexibility program. But that doesn't mean you can't try to finagle one or two telecommuting afternoons a month or a slightly modified start time. For your employer to adopt a more permissive attitude toward flexible work, someone has to be a pioneer. Why not you?
If you or your manager want to learn more about these study findings -- and how you can use them to make a case for flexibility at your company -- Work+Life Fit is offering a free webinar on Tuesday, June 14 at 9 am PST. Register for this free webinar here.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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