This has been an age-old controversy in the workplace, going back to the day when dozens of workers would sit at small desks close to each other doing the same work: Why am I doing more work than that co-worker? And, when is my boss going to do something about it?
Fast forward to the present-day office. This controversy now involves flextime, and workers who have children and workers who don’t have children. A recent article in The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/02/business/straightening-out-the-work-life-balance.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&pagewanted=all&adxnnlx=1349463781-7S7C/y7XhqjSaAJKdzIicg, discusses this trend, and how tensions are building in the workplace over the volume of work one employee is doing compared to another.
Research indicates that appropriately monitored flextime is beneficial to workers and the workplace, including greater contributions from and healthier lifestyles for workers who flex. Yet, many workers who don’t flex or who don’t have children are resentful of this policy, and believe that they must work harder and longer because other co-workers are flexing.
I read a recent article, http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/02/opinion/bassuk-workplace-kids/index.html?hpt=li_c2, by an executive coach, adviser, and confidante to senior executives who believes the real problem is a lack of communication. Workers without children, she wrote, think they have to pick up work from co-workers who have children because they are frequently focused on their children and unavailable. Yet, workers with children believe they are called on more at night and on weekends because workers without children are busy dating, socializing, and unavailable to answer calls during off hours.
The solution to alleviate these workplace tensions is education and understanding. Flextime can be a boon to those with and without children. Handled properly, flextime can allow all workers to better use their time productively, whether it is in working from home, or working longer hours in shorter weeks.
And, actual time spent in the office doesn’t quantify productivity. A worker on flextime can be better at time and responsibility management than someone who punches the clock every day at 8 a.m. and again at 5 p.m. So, if you’re a supervisor in an office with flextime tension, your job is to educate all of your workers about this needless controversy, and then tell them to get back to work.