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Why a flexible work schedule is necessary for an employee’s well-being

July 17, 2019

By Kristen Quinn, Director of Public Relations

I once had a boss who told me, “I know you have a life outside of work, but do a better job scheduling your life outside of business hours.” I had asked to take some time off during the workday to close on my first home. Because of her lack of flexibility, I had my husband become my power of attorney to sign all of our closing documents, so I could stay in my cubicle. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy and did not remain in that position or with that company for very long.

Fast forward to today, as I’m writing this article in the NICU at Texas Children’s Hospital. While I was proactive during my pregnancy to prepare my boss and co-workers with my maternity plan, what I couldn’t prepare for was having to unexpectedly deliver my twins at 28 weeks. Luckily, they are both healthy and slowly meeting the milestones necessary to eventually come home, but being in a situation like this is stressful to say the least. What has helped to alleviate some stress is the ability to work remotely from the hospital. I’m here to listen and engage with the boys’ doctors, and I’m able to hold the twins during their scheduled feeds throughout the day. I’m also able to delay my maternity leave until the boys come home, so I can truly disconnect from work and spend some quality time adjusting to my family’s new norm when the time is right.

While a flexible work schedule isn’t possible for all professions, it is a benefit that many employers can offer to their employees. According to results from a recent “Women in Energy Global Study” conducted by NES Global Talent, flexible working and remote access were the top two benefits that companies in the energy industry could offer for attracting and retaining female employees. The research project focused on highlighting the workforce challenges faced by female energy workers in 2018. 

Additional survey results also showed that Texas is leading the way in employing more female talents into the oil and gas industry, despite oil and gas being deemed the least “female-friendly” market. Additional findings highlight that more women may be supported in the industry with flexible working opportunities and therefore, are able to maintain a healthy work/life balance. 

There are multiple studies that document the advantages of flexible working including employee’s increased productivity, decreased sick days and in general happier mentalities. However, I realize that working from home, or in my case, a NICU, isn’t the right choice for everyone. Some people prefer to be in an office environment or are simply in a profession where working remotely isn’t possible. Personally, I find myself more focused and motivated throughout my day to meet deadlines, complete tasks and communicate with my clients and co-workers so I can be free of my laptop and phone and just concentrate on holding one of my sons skin-to-skin during their scheduled feeds. 

Life is unpredictable, and you just can’t always schedule everything outside of 9 to 5.

* As seen in the Houston Business Journal on May 28, 2019.