Is flex time a load of hooey?

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I just read Why Work Sucks—and How to Fix It, a book due out June 2 by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson. They’re the duo behind ROWE, the Results-Only Work Environment program created at Best Buy, the electronics retail giant. (My colleague Jyoti Thottam wrote about it in 2005 in TIME.)

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A few things I’d like to point out: I read the book on Memorial Day while sitting on my brother’s stoop as the kids played ball and the pork sizzled on the grill. It was sunny and breezy and my nephew Thomas didn’t whale me in the head with a hard hit to left field. My deadline was 10 this morning, when I was scheduled to interview the book’s authors. I turned in my Q&A to before noon.

As far as anyone was concerned, I completed my assignment—and I took my company-sanctioned holiday. This, according to Ressler and Thompson, is how things should work at work. Here’s the simplest definition of ROWE:

Each person is free to do whatever they want, whenever they want, as long as the work gets done.

But they also add:

Flextime is nonsense.

Why? Consider what appears to be good news. The Families and Work Institute published its 2008 study of employers last week with this stat:

79% of employers now allow at least some employees to periodically change their arrival and departure time, up from 68% in 1998.

But read that again. Eight out of 10 employers allow at least some employees to periodically change their arrival and departure time. Translation: flextime, in this definition, means some but not all bosses let some but not all of us have a teensy bit of wiggle time in when we go to and leave our desks.


What does flextime mean where you work? Useful benefit, or silly charade?