If you’re just beginning to think about a flexible work program for your company, you may be asking yourself “how flexible should our flexibility policy be?“ Obviously lawyers want flexibility for different reasons. One may want three months off to serve in the state legislature, others may ask for reduced hours for medical reasons or flexible arrival and departure times to care for children. To be effective, Flexible Work Programs should include reduced hours and full-time flexible work options, which is called holistic flexibility, while simultaneously meeting the needs of the organization and its clients. The only way to ensure that all these needs are met is to develop a well-conceived, formal written policy that reflects a holistic approach to flexibility.
This written policy is essential for several reasons:
- It signals the importance of flexible work as a business initiative to the firm or department;
- It lets lawyers know what options are available and how to use the program;
- It encourages consistency and limits liability by preventing flexibility from being a series of “secret side deals.”
Once the policy is in place, there are many different options for flexible schedules that have worked well for lawyers. For example, 80% schedules can be arranged which can include fewer hours per day or fewer days per week depending on the individual lawyer’s personal needs. Alternatively, full-time flex can be implemented where the lawyer commits to a 100% target while splitting his or her time between the office and home office.
Administering many different individual schedules does not have to be a nightmare for the firm! By implementing action steps such as having partners participate in Alliance teleconferences about supervising lawyers and participating in the Alliance’s Flex Leader Exchange, many firms have successfully implemented Flexible Work Programs that meet individual needs while maintaining excellent client service.
Contact us for more information on how we can help your company draft a written flexible work policy that will meet the needs of the lawyers, the firm, and its clients.