Today is the launch of 1 Million for Work Flexibility, the first national initiative to bring people together and create a collective voice in support of work flexibility. Tomorrow is National Flex Day, and October is National Work & Family Month. So much is happening, and it's exciting for anyone who has ever wanted or hoped for a better work-life balance. For me, it's the culmination of my lifelong belief in and passion for the importance of having balance in your life.
Today I'm a busy professional, mom, wife, friend, and community member, and the challenge to achieve a healthy work-life balance is one that I am keenly aware of, as are millions of parents. But even more than that, I am equally aware that people from ALL walks of life want work flexibility, and for MANY different reasons.
Some people want telecommuting options, such as younger generations who have grown up with the Internet within their reach anywhere and anytime, or people who live in towns where they can't find a job. Others want an alternative or flexible schedule, to avoid peak traffic hours or be more present for when their children or family need them, yet still get their job done. And then there are those who would love a part-time job, such as baby boomers who are increasingly going into semi-retirement rather than completely leaving the workforce, or parents who want to work when their kids are at school and be active with them when they're not. There are probably a hundred other. And almost all of these are good reasons, not throwaways.
So the smart employers are starting to listen, and the foolish ones are covering their ears. Because the thing is, work flexibility offers a ton of benefits for companies, financial and otherwise. As Carol Evans of Working Mother said at last year's Work-Life Congress while speaking to a room of business and HR leaders from top companies in the country, "Telecommuting and flex are good for finance, good for management, good for HR, and good for employees." And this week's passing of the San Francisco Family-Friendly Workplace Ordinance highlights that not only is work flexibility getting traction, but the possibility of it being a required part of business is becoming more real.
Personally, I've held that "life is a great balancing act" as my mantra since high school. Somehow that led me to start FlexJobs, a company that not only provides great work-life balance through work flexibility for our team, but whose mission it is to help others find jobs like that for themselves.
But for some time, I have wondered how I could do more on the activism side of work flexibility--how to contribute to the greater good by raising awareness on a national scale for the importance of work flexibility.
The light bulb finally came on one day this past summer when I had the idea for 1 Million for Work Flexibility. The aim with this project is to get one million people to sign up in a show of support for work flexibility, and we have partnered with some amazing organizations to help spread the word, including Working Mother, Thomson Reuters, Alliance for Work-Life Progress, the Green Business Bureau, Mom Corps, Work+Life Fit, MomsRising, and others. These organizations believe that workplace flexibility is not only a win-win for both companies and their employees, but it is crucial to fostering a better work-life balance for all.
We believe that in order to truly change workplace culture, it is critical to engage the individuals who want and need work flexibility, in addition to working with the leaders and organizations who are driving the efforts within companies. We believe that support from both--one million individuals and companies--can help make work flexibility be a core part of the 21st century workplace.
Follow Sara Sutton Fell on Twitter: www.twitter.com/flexjobs