Better Life Lab

Limber Up Your Work Life With Flex-It Week at the Better Life Lab

Photo illustration by Lisa Larson-Walker. Photo by

Can you work from home when you’ve got a sick kid? Telecommute if you have one of those precious meeting-free days on your calendar? Sign on from home later if an errand takes you away from your desk in the afternoon? Take leave to deal with an illness and come back to work without penalty?

If so, you’re one the lucky Americans changing the way we think of work, thanks to advances in technology that make working flexibly more possible than ever. Flexibility, many have promised, is our path not only to better work-life balance—but to more efficiency, better health, gender equality, and even more productivity.

Yet most people remain subject to the outdated confines of a 9–5 workday: Employees are required to be in the office for a set number of hours, even when what they do has nothing to do with their physical presence there.

This week at Better Life Lab, we explore the good, the bad, and the unknown of flexin’ up your work schedule. How do men and women flex differently? Why does flexibility often lead to longer, not shorter, working hours? And how have other countries created more flexible work cultures without hurting productivity or leading to overwork? We’ll also explore how paid family leave policies could rescue a generation of workers caught between the responsibilities of caring for aging parents and their own children.

We kick off Flex-It Week today with an excerpt from a new book by Morra Aarons-Mele arguing that workplace flexibility policies can help everyone, not just those on the “mommy track.”