Changing things up can reveal the true value of what you have. After four days of working a "set schedule," I've been reflecting on our freedom policy. During our normal workflow, SmallBoxers don't have required office hours. As long as we meet our deadlines and are present for meetings and collaboration as needed, we can flex our hours and work from wherever we like.
Factory Week is a bit of a different animal. We have this finite amount of time together, filled with collaboration, learning and (sometimes) shared projects. For a sprint like this, we go with a typical 9-5 schedule.
Four days into it, and I'm feeling a growing tension – somewhat divided, a bit forced. It's subtle, but it's there. My four-month-old puppy is just a beginner at crate training, and the full 8 hour+ days of crate time have wracked me with guilt. When he got sick earlier in the week, it was even harder. Each day I've found myself racing home to a pukey puppy, hoping all is well. I am training for a race, and I've found it difficult to fit in my runs. When we had dinner plans to hang with SmallBox's out of town guests on Tuesday night, I just had to let go of one of my short runs. More guilt.
It's temporary. Next week and beyond, we'll go back to our flexible work schedules. And I'm oh so grateful for it. I've been lucky. I haven't worked under office hour requirements since 2009.
But oh – everyone else! I feel this heaviness and sorrow for all of the people who go forth each week completely boxed in, with no flexibility and no grace granted for the varied and unexpected demands of life. I can recall feeling trapped by my schedule (back when I had required office hours), trying to balance everything and failing, which led to guilt and stress that piled on. And that's just not productive or good for anyone. Freedom, on the other hand, is like a release valve, a healthy way to let go of that unnecessary stress, to make space for a balanced life, to be present at home and to be more energized and productive for work too.
Even where full freedom as SmallBoxers enjoy isn't possible, some measure of flexibility would go a long way for people trying to fit it all in.