Women Leaders Share How To Succeed With Flexible Schedules
Flex schedules that allow for work-from-home days or working hours that fall outside the typical 9 to 5 is a workplace policy that can help employees better thrive at both work and home.
“Flexibility is so important for women in the workplace, regardless of whether or not they are mothers,” says Christine Trodella, Head of Publisher Sales & Operations, North America at Facebook, at the Girls’ Lounge at CES. “I have so many [women] friends who have left jobs for a variety of reasons, and when they say why they are happy at their new companies, it always comes down to the flexibility that they have. [In order for flex schedules to work] it really has to be woven into the [company] culture and truly accepted rather than just tolerated.”
With technology making it easier than ever to keep in touch with your teams, flexible schedules may be a growing trend: 46% of organizations have employees working from home part of the time today; 77% say they will have employees working from home part of the time two years from now, according to a Dimension Data report. However, a survey by technology company Diversio found that men and women were equally likely to say their workplace lacked the flexibility needed to balance personal responsibilities such as caregiving.
Flexible schedules aren’t good only for the employees who want them, but are also benefit a company’s bottom line: Flex schedule policies may increase employees’ productivity, and help companies attract and retain the best talent—a big cost saver since turnover is expensive. Check out this real-world advice from leaders in the Girls’ Lounge at CES on how to make flexible schedules work.
The ask: Present a business plan to make your case. We’re in business, so lay out the business plan for what you want, whether it’s more responsibility, money or a flexible schedule. “I have had flexibility since I became a mom almost 19 years ago. It was because I went to my manager, who was a man, and told him what I would be accountable for the day I wanted to work from home and why it was good for the company,” says Laura Molen, President, Advertising Sales and Partnerships at NBCUniversal Careers. “No one thought he would say yes because no VP had been able to work from home before, but he did. Whether or not you are a mother, if you want that flexibility, build a business plan to make your case so people can know what to expect from you.”
Drive exceptional results. Know what the expectations are, and then exceed them. “No one is going to tell you that you’re not doing a good job if you’re delivering results,” says Christine. “Understand how performance is measured at your company, and what [your managers] care about. Do they care about whether you’re sitting in a chair Monday through Friday, or do they care that you’re actually going to get the work done? There are plenty of people who sit in chairs all day but don’t show results. If you over-deliver, people will give you the flexibility that serves you best.”
Have advocates who can speak to your work. Remember that perception is reality. “Right or wrong, perception sometimes counts just as much as the results you drive,” says Minjae Ormes, Chief Marketing Officer at Visible. “When you do have flexibility in the form of where you work and when you work and you’re not physically [in the office], who is there who can speak on your behalf or knows what you’re up to? Think about who will be those people—not only your manager but a whole community—and work on that dynamic so people are aware of the work you’re doing and the impact you’re making.”
Actively seek out feedback. Whether or not you work remotely or during untraditional hours, make sure you keep tabs on how you and your work is being received so you can adjust accordingly. “The greatest gift you can ever get is feedback,” says Jo Lambert, GM of Finance, Tech, Auto, and Member Services at Verizon Media. “It’s the thing people don’t want to give you. It’s not easy, buy you have to go after it hard and ask people questions. You want to have a good sense of what your colleagues think, what your team thinks and what your leadership thinks.”
Cover for each other. Making flexible schedules work for both you and your team means having each others’ backs. “Be transparent and support your team mates,” says Laura. “I had a guy on my team who wasn’t going to leave [work early] to go see his disabled son win an award for his Kindergarten class because we were in the middle of some big negotiations. So the team banded together, and said, ‘You are going. We got you a car service. Turn off your phone and, if anything happens, we have you covered!’”
Remember, you’ll never know if you don’t ask. Give yourself permission to ask for what you need, lean on and cover for your colleagues, and embrace excellence. Here are more secrets to success:
How to Empower Women in Tech
Take 5: Rewriting the Rules for Men and Women at Work
The Shine Factor: Helping Women Leaders Rise