Daily Practice - April 1, 2010 - Workplace Flexibility
How fitting that as the Daily Practice resumes, the White House holds a forum on Workplace Flexibility, with the Council of Economic Advisers releasing a companion report. The report, though unfortunately titled with "Work-Life Balance," addresses the longstanding changes in American culture that workplaces have ignored. Citing economic reasons for employers' reluctance to adopt flexible working arrangements, such as telecommuting, job-sharing and flexible hours, the CEA points to seemingly win-win solutions for both workers and employers.
The answer seems to be paying workers less in exchange for higher job satisfaction created by the flexible arrangements. To me, this sounds like dangerous territory to step into, and reinforces the outdated model of exchanging time for money. The report underscores the need for higher education in today's workforce in order to provide employers with the value of "analytical and interactive skills" and not merely button-pushing. If you've read my blog long, you know that I believe in exchanging value with an employer, and having work be one part of an integrated, balanced life. I applaud the White House for beginning to address the issue and despite my disagreements with some of the sentiments I think it is the best expected beginning.
On a side note, the report also notes that far more companies than workers report having flexible work arrangements. This could mean a few things - my guess is it comes down to one's direct manager (as do most things in the workplace). Having an inflexible manager can eliminate any flexible benefits the company might offer.