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The Secret Downside of Flexible Jobs

What can folks possibly love about a flexible job (defined here as a job that presents options on when and where you work)? The answer: Being in a flexible job. What can folks possibly not love about the same job? The answer could also be: Being in a flexible job.

For the many workers reporting to the office via the daily commute, logic may suggest viewing “flexi” employees as having it all. (Because let's face it, being able to rid yourself of the soul-sucking hours spent sitting in rush hour traffic is a major life achievement in itself.) A recent article by Rebecca Rosen, however, highlights the hidden cost of a flexible job, suggesting a not-so-glamorous side due to the “flexibility stigma”:

Employees with this perk often wind up working extra hours at nights or on weekends. Why? Not to make up for lost productivity (studies show that workers are just as diligent if not more so when working from home) but in an effort to demonstrate their commitment to and passion for their jobs.

What does this mean for these workers? Due to a few fair-or-not misconceptions (i.e. flexi workers are less productive or less ambitious”), it means working longer-than-usual hours daily, including weekends, to prove that they do not fall asleep at the wheel and that work is an utmost priority. Add to the mix work boundaries being set through social norms and dealing with a system that demands constant availability for work. This could be close to a double-edged sword for these folks. Ironically, the stigma may hinder the ideal flexibility aspired for by these workers in the first place.

How do you feel now about having a flexible job? We’d love to hear from you. Though flexible jobs have yet to fully catch on in the Philippines, answers on this work-life subject can give insight on what values and priorities workers and organizations give great importance to. For what it’s worth, a bit of flexible thinking never hurts for all involved.

Photo by Marcin Krzyżanowski