Get this: Perception is everything.
In today’s WSJ “At Work” blog, Melissa Korn reports on new research showing that having a flexible schedule could affect your ability to succeed at work. The study says it depends on “why a manager thinks the employee needs the accommodation.”
From WSJ: If managers see the move as an expression of high commitment to the job or an attempt to boost productivity, it reflects positively on the worker, increasingly the chances for raises and promotions. But if management assumes an employee needs the flexibility to manage his or her personal life, that worker suffers in the boss’s estimation.
I love posts like this. For one, it offers a teaching moment: If you are interested in a flexible schedule at work, think about how to position it best to a manager. My mom’s advice is ringing in my ears as I type this, that “all value creation begins in the other person’s world.” In other words, think about selling your manager on how a flexible schedule for you benefits him or her. And consider when you sell them on this point. You may need to build up some “sweat equity” before broaching the subject. I can recount countless stories where women asked before they were hired if they could work from home a day or two each week. In my own situation, I had been with the company six years before broaching part-time, and highlighted the fact that the unused portion of my salary could go toward hiring contractors.
But I also love posts like this because it talks entirely about how flexibility might be bad for the employee, and fails to mention how the benefits of flexibility might outweigh additional work opportunities for the employee, or the fact that flexible positions may actually benefit the employer. Most of the moms I know who work part-time or on a flexible basis work just as hard as their full-time counterparts in a very focused, time-efficient manner. They’re the ones you won’t find chatting at the water-cooler.