The concept of having a “family friendly” work environment is no longer new and I imagine that the concept itself (or the intention) existed way before the terminology or vernacular around it became popular and heavily cited.
I mean, I can’t imagine any company today that wouldn’t include some verbiage around having this type of environment or organizational culture although you’ll hear it fluffed up a bit and made more “cool” or “hip” I suppose.
But if it’s so common today then what really does it mean and how do some companies really come out on top in terms of creating an environment that healthy for the staffs’ familial needs?
I think the secret sauce is really found in how they treat the individual and the way a company goes about giving the individual freedom and autonomy to execute against their roles and responsibilities.
In fact, I think that the organization can only go as far as supporting the individual and helping them be the best stewards of their time and thereby through extension creating a “family friendly” atmosphere. I’m not sure it’s the job of the org to be ultimately responsible for an employee’s family, if that makes sense.
If I can add one thing in particular that can help individuals create a more family friendly dynamic I believe the introduction or existence of a WFH (“Work from Home”) and distributed team culture can really help.
You see, a distributed team has the opportunity (and perhaps the luxury) of creating an environment that is conducive to employees building a family friendly work environment. Remote staff or distributed staff can grab moments away with their family and return when they need to manage the work.
But perhaps more importantly an organization that empower the employees and trusts them to do great work helps create this framework and foundation. Work, then, is accessible, not just geographically but also through that same mechanism of trust.
“Accessibility” means more than just simply “availability” – it means staff that are trusted to get their work done are accessible when they need to be and when they have corporately decided to be instead of holding some old-fashioned set office hours.
And I seriously dig that.
Each person on the team is able to prioritize their own time, they “handle their biz,” and they know when to ramp up or slow down. They are dependent on each other to help determine that pace and act accordingly.
A business can’t teach a man prioritization nor can it teach someone to carry the banner of “family friendly” – it can only show the man’s true priorities and the opportunities for learning, growth, and maturity.