The times have certainly changed. For the first time ever, there will be a 4-hour Flex Forum at the White House hosted by President and Mrs. Obama. The President and First Lady will discuss the importance of creating workplace practices that allow America’s working men and women to meet the demands of their jobs without sacrificing the needs of their families. The forum will be an opportunity for labor leaders, CEOs, small business owners, and policy experts to share their ideas and strategies for making the workplace more flexible for American workers and families. (Read First Lady Michelle Obama's comments at the White House Forum on Flexibility.)
Flexibility in how, where and when work is done has become mission critical for businesses and employees. As someone who was there at the beginning, having helped hundreds of companies understand and implement flexibility, I find myself incredibly moved by the White House Forum on Flexibility and all it might mean. This could be the tipping point to create work environments that are healthy and supportive for people, families and communities. And, especially for employers. We’ve known that creating more flexible work environments could be a win/win/win for a long time. And, there are wonderful examples of ways to make flexibility work and many enlightened employers are working hard to provide the tools and resources managers and employees need to work flexibly. But, what’s been missing is knowledgeable, committed and vocal leadership from the highest levels. What could be more inspiring than a President and First Lady who live the challenges and solutions daily, and are willing to shine a light on flexible ways of working that help companies reduce cost, attract and retain diverse talent and improve performance, while allowing employees to more effectively manage their work and personal lives. Flexibility is a key element – part of the infrastructure – for economic recovery. I look forward to the next chapter in this most important undertaking and applaud the White House for leading the way.