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Why I won’t feel guilty about flexibility

Jenna Lauer
Managing Partner, LA
Hall & Partners

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I’m a woman. I’m a mother. I’m a wife. I’m an executive. I like sneaking in yoga, girlfriend time and ‘me’ time on top of all of the above. I’ve been called a feminist. Although I don’t love the title, I’m probably fairly textbook. I am all of these, and yet I didn’t attend the women’s march. I didn’t attend the women’s march and I feel guilty about it. But the truth is that I didn’t attend because I felt guilty leaving my kids in order to do so. Guilt!!! Mom guilt is so real. Being an overly apologetic female is so real.

As my guilt for not marching continues to drain my soul, I sit here thinking what can I do about it. Why do women carry so much guilt? How will we ever get ahead if we’re so hard on ourselves? Today I sit here and make a promise of change. I didn’t march but I will make my surroundings a better place for women. My office will be a place for women to succeed. To be their best. To be themselves and be unapologetic about it. This will be my march.

All humans crave empowerment and independence. A fluid work environment gives us just that.

I’ll start with flexibility. I recently heard about companies cutting back on flexible work arrangements. What in the world? To my core, I don’t understand this. ‘Less flexibility makes me more productive’, said no one, ever! Women, in particular working moms, need flexibility. All humans crave empowerment and independence. A fluid work environment gives us just that. In a day and age when technology allows (and demands) us to be always on, why does it matter where we sit? Being out in the world and setting your own schedule gives you a great sense of energy and freedom. Your creativity ignites. Your loyalty and pride in your organization soar.

I wasn’t always on the flexible work environment bandwagon, but based on a recent company real-estate snafu, my office took a hasty move towards a flex environment for all employees. As the leader of this team, I had all the usual fears of lost productivity, chaos and a negative impact on culture. I was skeptical and scared. But this move was a defining moment for my team. It not only created a team bond but also produced the amazing culture we’d been searching for. It made us more productive, exceedingly creative, and stronger overall. We now concentrate on quality vs. quantity of time when we’re together. We’re more efficient. And we’re happier.

My march is to continue to build on this fluid environment. An environment that’s mandatory for working moms, but also better for everyone. To let women know they don’t have to choose between a career and family. That it’s not about work-life balance; rather, work-life blend. As I’m sitting in a coffee shop (not in my office) writing this, I feel less guilty already.

We’ve got this, ladies. Hands in for change!