Will market turbulence put paid to my flexibility?


I work for a financial services company with a publicly-stated commitment to work/life balance and flexibility. I have been successfully working from home one day a week for the past 18 months.

While it might not sound like that much, just having that one day makes a huge difference how I feel not only about my job but personally. I don't have to get up at 5:30 am to miss the traffic which means I can catch up on my sleep, and get to the gym which helps my overall stress level. And, I can get so much more work done during that day in my home office because I'm not interrupted as much and can concentrate.

My question is will the market's uncertainty deep-six my flexibility and my company's public support for balance? Am I putting my job at risk by not being in the office everyday in this kind of environment? I hope not, but it would be really hard for me to go back to five full days in the office.

Peter M. Dallas, TX

Need some help with a problem at work? Drop us an email to: [info | at | management-issues.com] entitled "Advice Clinic" and we'll try to help.

We can't answer every question we receive, but we'll do our best to respond to those that we think will resonate with our audience. And we can't offer legal advice. If We think you need a lawyer, we'll tell you. All names and locations are changed for publication.

Cali Williams Yost's Answer:

I can understand your concern. My answer to your first question about whether or not the market's current uncertainty will cause your financial services employer to discontinue its overall commitment to balance and your flexibility in particular depends on one thing: whether your company views flexibility as a "perk/benefit," or as a core career and business management strategy.

If your company offers flexibility because it's "a nice thing to do" but never clearly articulated why flexibility is a key strategy for the ongoing growth of the business, you may see a pull back. The logic will be that we can't afford to offer flexibility, like many other perks, during difficult times.

However, if from the beginning, your company has consistently made the link between flexibility and the ongoing success of the firm in a 24/7, high tech, global work reality, you won't see much pull back. But what you will mostly see is an increased focused on delivering results regardless of whether you have flexibility or not.

This brings me to your second question about whether or not your flexibility is safe. While I must qualify my answer by saying I would need to know more about your individual situation, you need to make sure you are 100% meeting, if not exceeding the business objectives you agreed to with your manager.

If you are unclear, ask to have them clarified again and then make sure you are communicating, communicating, communicating so your manager knows that not only are you performing while working from home one day a week, you are performing even better.

Also, make adjustments to your work+life fit that will address changes in your job due to the market. Maybe you need to be more flexible with the day you work from home to accommodate critical meetings. Maybe there's a special project you could volunteer to be part of as a way of going the extra mile during a difficult time.

This is where it really helps not to think of your goal as work/life balance , but as work+life fit. Then when circumstances change and you need to make adjustment, you don't feel like you are losing your balance, but simply adjusting your fit. It's a much more positive approach.

Turbulence is inevitable in any business, but it doesn't need to derail your flexibility as long as flexibility has traction in the business, you are delivering results and going the extra mile.

About our Expert

Cali Williams Yost
Cali Williams Yost

Cali Williams Yost is president and founder of Work+Life Fit, Inc, a company dedicated to empowering individuals to strategically manage the way work fits into their lives.