2 New Ways of Thinking About Flexible Work

When you hear the phrase “flexible staffing,” what pops into your head? Do you think of a half-empty office, or does your mind jump to an employee tapping away at her laptop while sitting at home? The truth of the matter is that even if two companies claim to offer a flexible working culture, they’re unlikely to resemble each other. After all, flexible staffing can mean anything from working at home a few days a week to only being in the office a handful of times a year.

But what if you’re new to the world of flexible staffing and don’t know what to expect – or worse, what’s expected of you? Working moms need a little more leniency at work than others, but that doesn’t mean they’re off the hook to get their work done. If you’ve struggled with adapting to flexible work cultures in the past, check out these two ways you can re-envision the nonstandard workplace and excel at work, wherever that may be.

1. Think tasks, not hours
You’ve just been hired by a company that offers flexible staffing and the option to work from home whenever you want. While some people might find this freeing, The Guardian explained that some people might have a hard time conceiving of their work outside of a 9-to-5 schedule. After all, the 40-hour work week has been ingrained in the American employee for close to a century now, and if this is your first time not being forced to come into the office every day, you might feel a little lost to the wind.

Don’t worry, though, because there’s a simple trick to letting go of any anxiety you may have over working in a flexible culture. The Guardian recommended thinking of your day at work not in terms of hours, but rather by how many tasks you complete. It’s not as if you get to walk out the door at 5 o’clock regardless of how much you have left to do, so why should you think that you’re beholden to the clock if you’re not at the office? Especially if you’re involved in any kind of creative work where it might be more conducive to work intensely for a few hours rather than tepidly for many more, you should try putting the clock away when you sit down to work.

2. Ignore ‘presenteeism’
As more companies embrace flexible staffing, a troubling trend has emerged among companies that employ workers who like to stay home and those who always prefer to be in the office. The Telegraph explained that presenteeism is the tendency for corporate cultures to reward employees not for the work they do, but for the amount of time they are physically present in the office. Tillie Newman, a 26-year-old flexible worker in the U.K., told the Telegraph that even though she made herself available during and after work hours, the fact that she would sometimes leave the office early rubbed some of her co-workers the wrong way.

“Every day I left the office at five to five but I’d hear people saying ‘part timer,'” Newman said. “I’d be there since 8 a.m. I had a work mobile phone that went home with me and the laptop. I got home and turned them both on. It was that office mentality where you had to be there. Those comments never stopped.”

While you don’t want to annoy your colleagues unnecessarily, there’s nothing you can do for people who don’t understand that you’re constantly juggling multiple priorities as a working mom. Make sure your boss is OK with your work habits first, but ignore all the gossip about presenteeism if you can help it.


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