Flexible hours let this company’s workers fit work around their lives

Allison Greenwald, senior product manager at The Alley Group, spent five weeks in Alaska while working a flexible schedule.

Courtesy: Allison Greenwald

Millions of Americans are quitting their jobs and rethinking what they want when it comes to work and work-life balance. Companies are responding, meeting their employees’ needs in areas like remote work, flexible hours, four-day workweeks, compensation and more. This story is part of a series looking at the “Great Reshuffle” and the shift in workplace culture that is taking place right now.

Allison Greenwald has a work perk that many Americans are craving — flexibility.

As a senior product manager at information technology and services company Alley, she can work her remote job around other things that may pop up in her life — from errands and doctor’s appointments to exercising and traveling.

While there are no hours set by the company, each team decides when to hold meetings. For Greenwald, that means logging in for a 15-minute daily check-in at 11 a.m. Eastern time and some meetings in the afternoon. She does the rest of the work when it suits her.

“I’ve gotten to do really incredible things,” said Greenwald, who is 29 and based in Brooklyn, New York.

“You don’t have to be in the same place every week.”

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So far, the highlight of her time at Alley, which she joined last May, was a five-week trip to Homer, Alaska, in August. She spent a lot of her free time in the weekday afternoons walking and exploring the area. On the weekends, she traveled to different parts of the state to do group hikes.

Since then, she has also spent time in Austin, Las Vegas and Utah. She also periodically visits Vermont.

“I’ve gone on winter hikes, from 8 to 11, before the day starts,” she said. “I’ve gone on long midday walks.”

Yet the flexibility doesn’t mean employees are slacking. The work is getting done.

“We have small close-knit teams and so when something doesn’t get done, you’re letting yourself down, you’re letting your team down, and you’re letting the company down,” Greenwald explained.

“It’s a really effective system.”

Alley, which has about 74 employees, has had a remote-first policy since it was founded over a decade ago. Its overall philosophy is that workers are adults and can govern themselves, said Bridget McNulty, partner and chief operating officer at the firm.

“It comes down to trust,” she said. “We trust the people that we hire to join our team.

“There is a mutual agreement to work together and we take that very seriously.”

Flexibility is a sought-after perk for workers in this era of the “Great Resignation,” also known as the “Great Reshuffle.”

Fully 55% of U.S. adults say the ability to work from home or have a more flexible schedule is more important to them now that it was before the pandemic, according to Bankrate’s 2022 Job Seeker Survey. In comparison, 52% cited higher pay as being of more importance. The survey polled nearly 2,500 adults, 1,416 of whom were either employed or searching for a job.

Flexibility can benefit employers, too

Allison Greenwald, senior product manager at The Alley Group, spent five weeks in Alaska while working a flexible schedule.

Courtesy: Allison Greenwald

The trend is evident in other surveys, as well. In LinkedIn’s 2022 Global Talent Trends, 64% of job-seekers called work-life balance a top priority when picking a new job. Meanwhile, 60% cited compensation and benefits.

That’s causing a shift in company culture, with more businesses offering flexible work arrangements and investing in their workers’ well-being.

“While it’s true that employees greatly benefit from flexible schedules, smart employers know that offering flexible schedules benefits them, too,” said Brie Reynolds, career services manager and career coach at FlexJobs.

“Flexible schedules can improve retention, attract top talent, increase productivity, drive employee engagement and more.”

Greenwald wouldn’t rule out returning to an office environment one day, but she doesn’t want to give up flexibility, which she said helps her well-being.

“I don’t stress out about running errands or running to the grocery store in between meetings,” she said.

“In an office setting, or really a setting where there was less trust, I think I would feel really anxious about doing all that stuff.”

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