Contrary to some widely held assumptions, flexible work isn’t something that only working parents or, more specifically, only female workers want. And conversations about the value of flex are not solely led by women either; in fact, there are many top male executives who have been outspoken about their own beliefs about flexible work and its many benefits. Here are five men—Richard Branson, David Heinemeier Hansson, Stephane Kasriel, Bob Moritz, and Mark Weinberger—who have all talked about work flexibility and what it means to their companies—and to them.
Richard Branson. Founder–Virgin Airlines
A longtime proponent of flexible work, Richard Branson has been very vocal about his own stance on work flexibility. In a blog post on the company’s website, Branson states: “At Virgin, we believe flexible working is smart working.” Virgin hosts a wide variety of flexible work initiatives, including telecommuting, an unlimited leave policy, wellbeing in the workplace, and integrated technology. Branson notes, “We treat our employees like the capable adults they are. This is one of the reasons why we attract such brilliant staff: it’s easier to attract top talent when you are open and flexible. It’s not effective or productive to force them to behave in a conventional way.”
And to anyone who questions Virgin’s attitude towards flex, Branson has one thing to say: “Screw business as usual. If you trust your people to make their own decisions, they will reward you.”
Well said, Sir Richard. Well said.
Bob Moritz. Chairman–PricewaterhouseCoopers
Bob Moritz doesn’t believe in burdening employees with a tremendous workload and no rest. Quite the contrary. In a conversation with the Huffington Post at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Chairman notes how important it is for management to model the behaviors they want their employees to emulate, sharing, “I take time off quite often, and I have to role model that. … So if we’re talking about flexibility, I’d better be flexible myself.”
Moritz added, “PwC shuts down from Christmas through New Years to give the entire company a chance to fully enjoy the holidays and connect with loved ones. We give everybody extra time off. Email traffic goes down to zero, and we say, ‘Disconnect, recharge your batteries, go see your friends and family, enjoy yourself and come back refreshed.’”
David Heinemeier Hansson. CTO and Co-Founder—Basecamp
David Heinemeier Hansson wrote the book on remote work—literally. The co-author of Remote: Office Not Required as well as the CTO and co-founder of Basecamp believes that workers should be able to live and work wherever suits them best. Basecamp’s staff is spread out across 32 cities spanning the globe.
Basecamp also keeps to roughly-40-hour workweeks (no fixed hours, no set schedules) and even scales those back to 32 hours throughout summers. In an interview with the Human Company Playbook, Heinemeier Hansson explains, “Look at the actual work outcome and output and you’ll realize that, very often, the most amount of work is done by the people who are the most well rested, who take frequent vacations, and who have interesting, fulfilling lives outside of work.”
Stephane Kasriel. CEO–Upwork
Stephane Kasriel insists that if you want to find top talent, you have to look at zip codes outside of Silicon Valley. In his LinkedIn piece, “Why I’m Making My Next Hire Outside Silicon Valley — And Why You Should Too,” Kasriel, the CEO of Upwork, makes the case for companies to dig deeper when mining for new people to recruit and hire.
Of course, that’s not possible without first embracing flexibility and remote work. Kasriel proclaims, “Requiring people to come to a set location at fixed hours is a remnant of the Industrial Age, and it’s time to let it go.” Moreover, he adds that having a distributed workforce creates a multiplier effect in which hiring one remote worker subsequently creates up to four new local jobs where that person resides.
Upwork’s team is distributed—and thriving. The global freelancing platform has 250 remote team members in the U.S. who live in 209 cities in 38 states. The goal: increase those numbers by at least 40% by 2020. Kasriel urges other companies to target smaller cities, towns, or rural areas for their next hire—and reap the rewards.
Mark Weinberger. Global Chairman and CEO—EY
Work flexibility is nothing new for the employees of Ernst & Young (EY). Mark Weinberger, Global Chairman and CEO of the international accounting firm, says in his article “Three Ways for Leaders to Combat Short Term Thinking” that EY has been offering work flex “for decades—everything from parental leave to formal flexible working arrangements.” He adds, “But as we look to the future, we’re envisioning what it would mean to take a step further.”
That means taking advantage of technology to establish even more flex opportunities. Currently, two-thirds of EY staff is comprised of millennials. According to an EY survey, 75% of EY millennial staffers want the ability to work flexibly and still be eligible for promotions. EY is definitely listening—that’s why the company is emphasizing its beliefs of “trust, collaboration and results in the workplace.” Weinberger believes that these steps will create not only a happier, more cohesive workforce, but also one that is more successful and productive.
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