What if you could say to your coworker – “Hey, Mike. I am in desperate need of a girls’ night out. Would you mind covering for me Wednesday evening?” and it had the same meaning as “My daughter has a doctor’s appointment, could you cover for me Wednesday evening?” Really examine the differences there. Often, parents are given (and with good reason) the ability to exercise a bit more flexibility in the workplace due to their children’s needs. But left to pick up the slack are….for lack of a better phrase….the rest of us.
The Wall Street Journal’s Lauren Weber gives us a new model, though, a model that would not only give parents an opportunity to exercise flexibility, but insert it into the culture for all of us despite our family size or type. She calls it a “Team Approach to Work-Life Balance” in her recent article, and frankly, the idea is genius.
Everybody on the team sits down regularly to share the constraints they have in their schedules. Say one employee picks up his kids from daycare three days a week, another person needs to go to her son’s graduation next Friday, and another needs to attend a meeting on Wednesday afternoon for a non-profit group where he volunteers. Once all those plans are on the table, the members of the team can figure out how to make sure important meetings and deadlines are covered, and plan accordingly.
How amazing would that be? To have all of our “after five” lives mean the same across the board. Your commitments, my commitments, work related or not, are important, valued, and meaningful. It would certainly make us all, parents included, a little less guilty for leaving early or prioritizing non-office related activities.