flexible work Archives - Diversity & Flexibility Alliance

Spotlight on Flex – Teresa Reuter

Our Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

For May 2019, we are pleased to share insights from Teresa Reuter, Associate, Sidley Austin LLP (Chicago, IL)

Diversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made flexibility a priority and a success with your career? How has the firm supported this?

TR: After graduating from law school in 2009, I clerked for a year in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia and then joined a large law firm in Atlanta. In 2013 my husband’s job took us to the Midwest at which point I joined Sidley as a lateral in its Chicago office. I worked full time until I came back from maternity leave in April 2017. Since then, I’ve been working a 90% reduced hours schedule.

With the addition to our family, I knew I needed to make adjustments to my schedule. I wanted to be fully engaged with work and also have some “give” with my hours to adjust to life with our newborn and a husband who travels for work. My reduced hours gives me that balance. Sidley guaranteed me the option to work a reduced hours schedule upon returning from leave, but I still was nervous to ask for it. Without any hesitation, my practice group leader and Sidley fully supported my request, and I’ve been working reduced hours ever since. I come into the office every day, and I have the flexibility to take care of work and personal matters as they’re scheduled or occur. With my reduced hours, I adjust my schedule to the changing demands of life. For instance, ever since transitioning my son to a daycare, I leave at 5 pm a few days a week to pick him up.

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Spotlight on Flex – Andrea Brockway

Our Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

For February 2019, we are pleased to share insights from Andrea BrockwayCounsel, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr (Philadelphia, PA).

Diversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made flexibility a priority and a success with your career? How has the firm supported this?

Andrea Brockway: I started at the firm as a full-time litigation associate in 2008 after graduating from Temple Law School. In late 2010, I switched to a reduced hours schedule after the birth of my first child. The firm had a formal flex policy in place when I asked to reduce my hours, and my request was approved. Since switching to flex eight years ago, I’m now the proud mother of four children and have maintained a successful litigation practice representing clients in higher education and white collar criminal defense. The firm and my colleagues have always been supportive of my flexible work arrangement because they trust I’m going to complete the work and do it well.As a litigator, my work and deadlines vary day to day, but I try to block off Fridays to focus on my family. Even though the nature of litigation doesn’t always fit that schedule, my flex hours enable me to decline non-essential meetings scheduled on Fridays. My coworkers understand because they know I’ll always attend to my work commitments on time.

When it comes to flex, it’s not just the reduced hours, but it’s also the flexible work environment that’s been helpful for me. The firm has been very supportive of me working remotely where feasible. This locational flexibility allows me to save on commute time and also affords me the ability to work before/after traditional office hours.

I make flex a priority through communication and organization. All of my commitments are calendared – whether it’s a court deadline or bringing Valentine’s Day treats to my pre-schooler’s classroom. Everything is scheduled, and I’m available via my cell phone or email. I recently started using an app called iTimeKeep to help me stay organized and on top of my commitments. It’s been extremely beneficial for my time management and prioritizing tasks throughout the day.

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Are You Walking The Talk on Flexibility?

Tips for Managing a Team When You’re Working a Flexible Schedule

This article by Manar Morales was published on ThriveGlobal.com on November 29, 2018.

It’s one of the most important traits found in good leaders. They lead by example. Never is this more important than when the leader is working a flexible schedule. The fact is there are certain behaviors that are necessary to successfully working a flexible schedule. And, if you’re managing a team while working a flexible schedule, it’s your responsibility to model these behaviors to interrupt flex stigma and unconscious bias, and set the tone for the rest of your team.

 

Laying the Foundation for the Business Case

As a former employment litigator, an adjunct professor and now as the President & CEO of the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance, I have advised and coached hundreds of individuals and organizations on flex-related issues during my twenty-plus-year career. In every case, the success or failure of a flexibility initiative has depended on the actions, commitment and support of leadership. Leaders must begin by laying the foundation for the business case for flexibility. It’s essential that they communicate with all employees that the flex initiative is a business imperative and essential for the recruitment and retention of top talent.

 

Embracing the Cultural Shift

For a flexible work initiative to be successful and to benefit all employees, leaders need to guide a shift in organizational culture to one that sincerely supports and embraces flexibility. Research shows that while many organizations offer a flexible schedule, only a small percentage of the workforce take advantage of the policies. Education and training on flexibility can help close this gap between policy and practice and help to shift the culture of an organization

 

Trust in Your Team is Paramount

While leaders play a pivotal role in ensuring the success of the flex initiative, the responsibility should be shared with the entire team and leaders must be able to trust their team. As Dell’s Global Director of Human Resources, Mohammed “Mo” Chahdi, explains, “In a flexible work environment, leaders must make a conscious decision to trust their team members and to hold them accountable for their outcomes, rather than trying to control them on a day to day basis.” Dell has demonstrated a clear commitment to flexibility as a key component of its culture and their leadership team has led the initiative by working remotely and modeling the behaviors that give it legitimacy.

 

Leading By Example

So how can leaders “walk the talk” on flexibility? Once they have laid the foundation for the flexibility initiative, there are five key flexible work behaviors leaders should model:

  1. Maintain Visibility

There is often an assumption that being productive equates with being in the office, despite the fact that there are just as many distractions in the office as there are outside of it. Professionals who work remotely need to take proactive steps to counteract this misperception by maintaining their presence and their visibility. Be strategic and take advantage of the days you are physically present to develop relationships, participate in events and spend one-on-one time with colleagues.

 

  1. Communicate Proactively

Stay in touch with your team members, keep tabs on all projects and respond to emails and phone calls in a timely manner. Keep in mind, however, that being responsive is not enough. Professionals who work remotely have to be especially proactive with their communications. Supervisors must be more intentional about sharing timely feedback (to avoid the “out of sight, out of mind” tendency) and should be sensitive to the method of delivery of feedback.

 

  1. Be Transparent but Seemless

As a leader working a flexible schedule, it’s important to be accessible. Your team should know how to reach you and should feel comfortable contacting you. Clearly communicate your office hours and make sure you are accessible when you say you are. Make sure someone on your team knows where you are and how to reach you at all appropriate times. Be as transparent as possible about your schedule as it provides your team members with affirmation of their own flexible schedules.

 

  1. Leverage Technology

Make sure you are leveraging all available technologies that enable real-time communication such as chat and messaging features. Additionally, video conferencing should be utilized as often as possible to get face-to-face with your team and create “water cooler moments.” Schedule sharing technologies are useful for sharing real-time availability. While these technologies may seem simple, they can make a meaningful difference in communicating with your team.

 

  1. Be Adaptable

We like to call it “flexible flexibility.” It’s important that you are open to shifting your schedule when needed to fit the needs of your team or clients. Being flexible implies some give and take. In the context of working remotely, this includes demonstrating a willingness to adjust when you need to physically be in the office. It does not, however, mean accepting repeated submission of your schedule to false urgencies or stigmatized views of working outside of the office. To avoid rigidity either way, clearly communicate organizational expectations and work priorities.

 

As Mo Chahdi says “You have to be collaborative and efficient with people you can’t see, and as a leader you have to model this effective collaboration.” Clearly, this new way of collaborating is evolving into a new and improved workplace culture that can reap huge benefits for individuals as well as organizations.

 

Contact Manar Morales for more guidance on flexible work initiatives and how to find your own flex success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Action Step –
The Telecommuters’ Guide to Working Remotely

The Alliance’s Action Steps are designed to assist organizations with implementing practical strategies and policies related to diversity and flexibility.  Members can access full versions of all of the Alliance’s Action Steps in the Member Resource Center.

In order to recruit and retain top talent, organizations need to offer flexible work options to stay competitive. One of these options, telecommuting, has increased in use and popularity, and millennials in particular value, desire, and expect the ability to telecommute. As organizations become more global and more employees need to travel and work off-site, telecommuting has moved from a form of flexible work to being a business operations necessity. Organizations are also utilizing telecommuting as a way to cut real estate and overhead costs. When employers provide resources and support to help telecommuters succeed, they set themselves apart in terms of recruitment, retention, and productivity.

Employers should clearly communicate tactics and provide support to help remote workers succeed, both in terms of fostering effective team and individual productivity, as well as long-term career success. But like all forms of flexibility, successful telecommuting is a two-way street. Telecommuters need to: maintain visibility by having an active presence, foster relationships with key sponsors and mentors, be responsive, communicate their workload, proactively solicit feedback, be flexible about schedules, and maintain a professional workspace in order to reduce distractions and maintain focus…

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In Case You Missed It:
Our 2018 Flex Advisor Workshop

Take Our 10 Question Quiz to See if Your Organization Needs Some Help with Its Flexible Work Initiative

Last week on National Flex Day we held our highly-anticipated annual Flex Advisor Workshop for those responsible for the day-to-day administration of a flexible work program. The one-hour webinar provided the Alliance’s valuable guidance on successfully developing, implementing and managing a flexible work initiative. In case you missed it, individuals from Member Organizations can view the webinar here.

Maybe you’re not sure if your organization’s flex policy is successful or not. Take our 10 Question quiz, and if you can’t confidently answer yes to all ten questions, it might be time to have a strategy call with our team for some guidance.

Not a member, not a problem! We’re happy to have a 30-minute introductory call with you to get you started on the right foot. Just let us know.

 

  1. Have you explored specifically WHY your organization wants to establish flexible work options?
  2. Have you mapped out your organization’s unique business case for flexibility?
  3. Have you considered the role flexibility currently plays and will play in the near future to close the impending leadership gap?
  4. Have you identified champions or leaders who are clearly communicating the importance of flexibility within your organization?
  5. Have you studied your attrition statistics and other exit data?
  6. Do all of your employees feel 100% comfortable using the flex policy?
  7. Do you have a written flex policy and is it accessible to everyone?
  8. Are you regularly measuring the success of your program, tracking usage and monitoring patterns in who is working flexibly and who is not?
  9. Are you holding mid-level managers accountable for the success of the program?
  10. Are you celebrating flex successes and otherwise encouraging usage?

 

Need some advice or just want to tweak your flexibility policy, let us know. We’re here to help. Contact Manar Morales to set up a call today.

Spotlight on Flex – Danielle Katzir

The Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

For January 2018, we are pleased to share insights from Danielle Katzir, Partner, Gibson Dunn (Los Angeles, CA). 

Diversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made flexibility a priority and a success through your schedule?

Danielle Katzir: I think it comes down to flex is not a one size fits all – not for the individual or the job – and flex isn’t static over the course of your career. I’ve been on some type of flex time arrangement for seven years now, but my targeted hours have varied, as needed, to best meet my needs and goals, those of the firm, and my clients. When my kids were younger, I wanted to spend more time at home with them working remotely. Now with three active toddlers, many mornings I can’t wait to jump in the car to clear my head, and I’m in the office every day. Flex is a two way street – it’s best if you’re as flexible with the job as you want the job to be with you. It’s about creatively defining flexibility and frequently looking at it from a more macro level; it’s not necessarily how predictable my day, week, or month is. Our industry often lacks this kind of certainty. It’s more about asking myself, “What do I want to achieve, professionally and personally, this quarter or year? The next 3-5 years?” Start at that point and backwards-engineer the workload to make those goals achievable in a timeframe that works for you. Be willing to revisit and re-evaluate that plan frequently.

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5 Ways Our Benchmarking Survey
Benefits Your Firm

Today we are launching our 4th Annual Law Firm Flexibility Benchmarking Survey and we are hopeful a significant number of AmLaw 200 firms will participate. Our survey serves as a unique opportunity for law firms to gain valuable information and insights into the effectiveness of their flexible work policies, the biases that may be present and how they compare to the rest of the industry. Our goal is to help improve individual firm’s flex policies and help to change the culture of the industry as a whole.

Five ways you’ll benefit from participating in our Benchmarking Survey:

  1. An Opportunity for Self-Assessment

By completing the survey, you will, in essence, be performing a self-assessment of your firm’s flexibility policy. The questions on the survey were designed to determine holistic flexible work usage (including reduced hours, telecommuting, flexible start/end times, annualized hours and job sharing) by attorney or staff member position, gender, race and sexual orientation. By evaluating your firm’s answers you’ll have a glimpse into the successes as well as the gaps in your policy and its usage.

  1. It’s a Small Investment of Time for Large Benefits

This year’s survey has been streamlined and modified to reduce the number of questions related to usage data and attrition. The policy-related questions focus on information that is readily available to most flexibility program managers. It is our hope that those completing the survey will be able to do so in a shorter amount of time thereby making it well worth the effort for the critical data gained.

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Business Development: An Integral Part of Your Flex Success®

This is the sixth in a series of seven blog posts featuring advice on our Seven Strategies for Flex Success®. Check back as we walk you through the seven steps that will guarantee your success while working flexibly: Define Your Success; Own Your ValueActivate Your Mindset; Create A Strong Personal Brand; Build Your Networks; Expand Your Ideas on Business Development; and Enhance Your Work-Life Control.

No matter what industry you’re in, it’s always good to stay one step ahead of your business, your clients, your customers or your marketplace. You always want to be thinking about tomorrow and where your career is headed and where your income is coming from. While you might approach business development in a slightly different manner in light of your flexible schedule, it’s still imperative that you dedicate time to business development and to generating your future revenue.

The sixth strategy in our Seven Strategies for Flex Success® is Expand Your Business Development. Whether you’re working with clients or reporting to internal supervisors, make sure you’re demonstrating a deep understanding of their needs, business realities and serving as a trusted advisor to help them accomplish their current and future goals. To help you build future clients, projects and customers, you should turn to the network of colleagues, mentors, sponsors and former classmates that you built in the Fifth Strategy (Build Your Networks and Personal Board of Advisors). This network can help you expand your reach and enhance your ideas on business development, key elements to creating more autonomy in your career and ultimately greater work-life control.

You may be concerned about investing time in business development when you’re working a reduced hours schedule and therefore already have less time for work. However, many professionals working a reduced hours schedule have told us that their flexible schedule has allowed them to excel at business development and, in fact, has become integral to their career success. It’s important to incorporate time into your flex schedule for business development as well as for activities that will raise your personal profile such as speaking engagements, publishing articles and papers and networking.

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