/ Asked by Laura
I just started in a new office that has a great flex-time policy, whereby I can arrive early and leave early. I've discovered though, that there seems to be a stigma attached to those who leave before 5pm. Particularly for women -- like we're not really working as hard / as committed as everyone else. Is this just my company? What are your thoughts?
Answered by Emily, Hiring Expert at Fifth Third Bank, on Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Thank you for the question! My thoughts are that the policy is there for a reason and if people need to take advantage of it then they should.
Perception is key in every company but be sure the perception you are measuring is that of the people who count in terms of promotion decisions, etc. If you continue to feel that there is an unwritten expectation regarding the flex-time, then sit down with your supervisor and talk about expecations and your performance. Perhaps they aren't aware of the way things are being perceived, or perhaps you are a little sensitive to the topic and they really don't feel that there is an issue and would encourage you to use the flex-time policy. If you still don't feel confident after that meeting, then you make a decision that is right for you and your needs regarding the policy.
Answered by Bryan, Hiring Expert at IBM Corporation, on Thursday, June 20, 2013
While it is great to have flex-time policies, it can be a major challenge if those policies are not aligned well with the office environment.  Unfortunately, it is not just your company that has these types of challenges.  I would not get discouraged just yet though as it can be challenging to understand how policies are viewed and implemented within an office environment at first.  Usually, the best policy is to work hard, learn from your coworkers and watch those around you.  Managers and organizations usually care less and less about when, how and where you get your work done after you have proven that you will get it done and completed with quality.  Of course, that is not every company, manager or environment, but you will more than likely receive more autonomy as you show your value.  Try and find a mentor that is not within your current team or leadership that might be willing to provide candid advice about the company policies and procedures.  If it still remains an issue, don't hesitate to provide that feedback to your HR leadership as they need to know that a company policy is leading to possible stigma. 
Answered by Susan, Hiring Expert at Praxair, Inc., on Tuesday, July 2, 2013
You've touched on a decades-old controversy.  Yes "face time" in the office can make or break reputations in the work environment.  It's unfortunate, but it's a fact of life.  If you hear this is the case at your company, then you have a choice to make.  Either abide by the "unwritten" practice (despite what the policy says), or stick to the policy accepting you may be sending an impression which may not benefit you in the long run.  

If what you are hearing is correct, what you are seeing is the "culture" of the company and leadership team; it's really not about the policy itself.  Many policies exist in companies and the leadership teams like some of them, and dislike others.  I always look at the senior leadership team and ask myself "how many of them take advantage of a flex time policy?"...if the answer is none, then I would stop and really consider whether or not I would partake.

It may, however, be worthwhile to ask a respected member of leadership to explain to you how senior leadership feels about this flextime policy, when it was instituted and why (as well as who among senior leadership are not particularly supporters of it), and if there are "unwritten" ramifications if people choose to use the policy.  If however your personal situation requires you use the flextime policy, then openly ask your leadership what you can do to squelch any concerns that you may not be putting in your fair share of the workday. 

Learning to navigate cultural issues like this will benefit you greatly in the long run.  Good luck!
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