Back to School Time? Utilize Flex Work to Maximize Your Family Time

I am a family man, through and through. As much as I value my experiences working at PGi and all of the innovative technologies and creative people I get to work with, nothing is more precious to me than the time I get to spend with my girls – my two daughters and my lovely wife – and our most recent addition, Phil, who’s a little bigger now than the first time he appeared on the blog:

With school starting back soon across the country (ours start next Monday – too soon!), parents are equal parts thrilled and saddened by sending their children off to a new school year. We want to squeeze in as much quality family time as we can, even as our work weeks continue to get longer and longer. Maximizing that time is important to me; between homework and extra-curricular activities, everyone’s schedules get so incredibly hectic once school begins.

Luckily, flexible work, powered by collaboration technologies like iMeet® and GlobalMeet®, team workspaces like our Jive-powered intranet, PGiLife, and even old standbys like email and text gave me the freedom to make the most out of the last precious free days with my family.

Collaborate on Your Schedule

Not long ago, I took an entire week to telecommute full-time from the lake. I could answer emails and take calls in the morning, spend the afternoon out on the water with the family, check back into work in the late afternoons and then have the evenings for quality time with the girls. It was the perfect marriage of flex work and family time, and it was only made possible by the availability of accessible and mobile collaboration tools.

I was still available and reachable for mission-critical issues or conversations. I could jump into a real-time web or audio meeting at a moment’s notice. But every minute I could be out playing with my kids instead of working was a minute I wouldn’t have had if I had been at the office.

But arguably the most valuable tools for maximizing my family time were the ones that let me collaborate on my schedule, tools that don’t require me to be actively and immediately present to contribute to the conversation. We refer to these as “asynchronous” communication tools, such as email or PGiLife. With them, I could check in with my team, review documents and add to ongoing conversations at my – and my family’s – convenience.

Embrace the Workation

Last year, we reported on how much PTO simply goes unused among the workforce: 42% of respondents to our survey said they’ve cancelled or postponed vacations because of work. It’s tempting to try and fit one last family trip in before school starts back, but the missed work can often be too much to manage, leading to missed family time.

Instead of letting those vacation and school-free days go to waste, consider a workation to lessen the burdens, stress and worry of missing work. With careful planning and communication, your team will know when you’ll be available and accessible for questions or conference calls, and you’ll still have ownership of your family time.

About Sean O'Brien

Sean O’Brien is PGi’s Chief Administrative Officer. He oversees the company’s Legal, HR and Program Management organizations and manages Corporate Development, M&A and Acquisition Integration. In addition, Mr. O’Brien leads Corporate Strategy, Executive Communications and Global Facilities Management.

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