September 01, 1998
Meetings & Conventions: Short Cuts August 1998 Current Issue
September 1998
Short Cuts:

Nine to five may be your organization's standard business hours, but if the typical workday is tough on your schedule -- for reasons ranging from child care to traffic or even a nonconformist body clock -- consider proposing a change.

As of 1997, 44 percent of companies offered alternative work arrangements such as flextime, job sharing and telecommuting, according to a survey of 509 employers by Hewitt Associates, a human resources consulting firm based in Lincolnshire, Ill. That number is expected to increase to 57 percent by the year 2000.

Your company may already have a flextime policy. If not, be a pioneer. But before charging into your boss' office with your new schedule, take the following steps, excerpted from "Flex Success," a blueprint by Kaneohe, Hawaii-based consulting firm Work Options Inc. for developing a flextime proposal ($39 by mail, $35 by e-mail; call 1-888-279-FLEX or visit

  • Review a copy of your firm's latest employee manual.
  • Evaluate the manual to see if employee policies, in general, are conservative or liberal, vague or definitive, progressive or out-of-date.
  • Check the manual for "family-friendly" policies addressing flextime, part-time, job sharing and parental leaves, and review their provisions thoroughly.
  • Ask around the workplace to find out who has a flexible arrangement (particularly of the type you seek) on a formal, informal or ad hoc basis.
  • Ask those who have such arrangements how they obtained them and how it's working out.
  • Observe over time how your boss responds to occasional special requests or accommodations for family emergencies or other situations requiring employees to be out of the office during traditional work hours.
  • Determine which of your superiors would have to approve a flextime proposal.
  • Regardless of who gives the final okay, you'll need the support and approval of your immediate boss. Observe him or her over time to determine the best way to present your proposal (e.g., morning vs. afternoon, verbally vs written).

    Don't expect a simple "yes." And have some snappy answers to common objections at the ready. Some suggestions from Work Options Inc.: If your boss says, "We've never done this before" or "It's not our policy," respond: "Allowing flexible work options has become a human resource management tool across the country, with positive results for business. This company can experiment with how it can work here by allowing me to implement a six-month pilot program."

    Or, if your boss says, "You're a manager; you need to be here during regular business hours," respond: "With meetings, travel and vacation, like most managers, I'm not always in my office anyway. I've got a well-trained staff and they're motivated to do the necessary work without my standing by every moment. My proposal maintains our regular staff meetings and performance monitoring. We'll be doing something that has been done successfully at other companies."




    "I would go to the beach and just watch the waves roll in and roll out again. Right now I'm running in 30 different directions."
    Connie Elliott, CMP
    Executive Director
    Anderson County Tourism Council
    Clinton, Tenn.

    "After spending 200 percent of my personal time working for MPI, I'd like to remember how to play golf again. So, first I'd go to golfing school, and then I'd take one of those great gourmet cooking courses in Europe. Italy would be my first choice, then France."
    Anna Lee Chabot, CMP
    Head, Meetings & Assemblies Section
    The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
    Ottawa, Ontario

    "Read books on anything that has to do with using technology for distance learning. It is impacting meetings and conferences substantially."
    Chug Roberts
    Director of Editorial Services
    Congressional Quarterly Inc.
    Washington, D.C.

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