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!