For years I felt frustrated in my various jobs in which my performance was based in part on how much face time I had in the office versus how much work I accomplished, and did well. From managing recruitment and outreach in higher education, resource development in nonprofits and marketing and public relations in senior housing and other industries, the expectation was generally the same. I needed to be visible to prove I was getting the job done.
The traditional work environment was never the right place for me, but I spent years trying to "fit in" to a mold that would not surrender.
I can get more work done between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. than most people can get done in an eight-hour day, but for employers who still live in a world of time clocks or casually walking past offices to see who is "in," that world is no longer for me.
According to a blog post from A Plus Benefits — Understanding Workplace Flexibility, "many companies have had a lot of success implementing flexible arrangements in the workplace. For companies with employees who are no longer forced to come to the office and do not have set work hours, turnover has declined and employee engagement has increased."
It always boggled my mind how much time was wasted throughout the day, how easy it was to become involved in office conversations and impromptu "meetings" that resulted in personal talk, gossip or discussions about how unhappy we were in a place we wanted to succeed. A place, that if the ever-changing reality of what a traditional work environment looked like all over the globe seeped in to our offices, might have had different results.
Working for myself and working from home have been life-changing. I still find I have to give myself permission, yes, permission, to go take a nap, or actually do something fun during the traditional eight-to-five-5 timeframe ( as if I am not being responsible or productive).
Recently, after spending almost five straight hours at my laptop pushing out work for three different clients, and under the weather, I gave in. Out loud (and for my pets to hear), I told myself to go take a nap. "It is OK," I said. "You are the boss of you now."
With my dog at my feet and the cats lounging around me, I stood up, and said "Guys, I am going to bed." Of course the dog knows exactly what "bed" means and he was the first one up the stairs, and within minutes the rest of the zoo followed. They all knew it, and they all approved. It was nourishing.
If you are a boss, I implore you rethink your work structure. Be open to change and trust your employees. Get to know your employees — their strengths, weaknesses but most of all their levels of self-motivation. I know what I brought to their tables for the past 25 years, and I spent many years "fighting" to fit in. Ultimately, my employers are the ones who lost out.
Now, I am sitting at my dining room table, drinking my coffee and planning my day that includes working with clients across the country and internationally — and getting a massage! Yes, a massage in the middle of the day. And, with all of the technology I have at my fingertips, it'll be as if my clients and I just walked out of meetings in person.
Trust in our ever-changing world of remote working, conference calling, apps galore and most importantly, your staff. Give your employees the tools to be successful and to do their jobs while offering flexibility and support to manage all of the challenges life throws their way. Face-to-face time or sitting in a chair in an office doesn't make someone or a team more productive. In fact, that can hinder work flow and productivity for people like me.
I am grateful for the 25-plus years I spent working for others, and having the opportunity to learn this about myself. But let's also be clear here and say that working for yourself and managing your time also come with their own set of challenges, and that is something I am still working on. However, all in all, this has been one amazing transition.
Mindy Quinn, chief executive officer of Wildflower Promotions and Media Management, has more than 25 years experience with proven results in public relations, program development and event planning. Contact her at email@example.com.