5 things I’ve learned from implementing a flextime program

Beatriz has built a career in paid digital media over the past eight years within the media agency world. Her greatest strength is putting people at the heart of everything she does, from business thinking to performance media strategy. She strongly believes in leading a team to excellence through collaborative work and constantly challenging conventional wisdom and ways of working.

At Glassroom (and other Humanise agencies), we have adopted a flextime approach where employees work 9 days in a two-week cycle and take the 10th day off.

We have dubbed this initiative to improve work-life balance as “9/10.” 

In fact, we started testing 9/10 as a pilot project in January 2022 to determine if it was a viable program for the rest of the Humanise Collective. The challenge we had from the beginning was to ensure our staff would organize and tackle their workweek more efficiently, rather than doing overtime on the 9 days to disconnect on the 10th. 

As a manager and team leader, my role in the pilot project was not only to facilitate and organize its implementation in my team, but also to ensure it had the right conditions to give it a fair shot. Just saying to my team, “Hey guys, we’re testing 9/10. You need to be more efficient with your responsibilities and deliverables. Good luck!” was not going to cut it. Therefore, I decided to learn as much as I could about efficiency, productivity and habits. I read two books, went through many articles and listened to countless podcasts (resources at the end of the article). 

I quickly learned that there is no single formula, project management tool or app that could magically realign my team into delivering all our work with less time in the long term. Efficiency goes beyond an action plan with bullet points and neatly packed sections.

Efficiency is all about skillfully managing resources with a particular mindset focused on improvement and collaboration, and involves reducing friction and roadblocks between people and within processes.

We’re ten months into the 9/10 program and this is what I’ve learned so far after my quest for theoretical knowledge and real-life trial-and-error with my team:

  1. 1. It’s important to book a meeting to properly kick off a flextime program and align on logistics, discuss expectations and equip everyone with new tools, tips and knowledge. This is also a good time to openly hash out opportunities and roadblocks to efficiency. A change like this should be prepared from a process POV and from a mindset perspective.
  1. 2. Being efficient requires individuals and teams to align on goals and priorities in a more explicit manner. This will ensure focus, time and energy are invested in the areas that matter most and have the greatest impact. This involves working deliberately and with intention at all levels and transversally.
  1. 3. Striving to be more efficient requires questioning and evolving the way we work; you need to be prepared to redefine formal and informal processes. It’s crucial to be open to feedback and then act upon it to improve workflows and make them more agile and pertinent to people’s day-to-day. Documentation for how-to’s, best practices, onboarding and checklists is a must; it will require a significant time investment in the short term, but it will pay off in the long run.
  1. 4. A team is at its best when each team member’s contributions are aligned not only with roles and responsibilities, but also with innate skills and interests. It’s important to take the time to understand where and how individual team members bring the most value and are at their best. Aligning a person’s professional development with deliverables and client needs is a stepping stone to increased efficiency across the board. 
  1. 5. Greater efficiency can only be achieved with open communication and high levels of collaboration. A team is a network and the connection between team members (including leaders) needs to be nurtured. Although it might be tempting to cut hours dedicated to internal meetings, it’s crucial to make the time and protect moments where the focus is on team building, learning and strengthening connections. We need to be connected not only to our work, but also to the people we work with.

I am sure this list of takeaways will continue to expand and evolve as we continue to redefine a post-covid return to work at Glassroom. We’re still experimenting with a hybrid work model, 9/10 flextime and team members across multiple geographic locations. Our work, my work, is not close to being over in this respect, and I can’t wait to continue building a work culture that brings everyone together, leverages the old and the new, and allows us to have a better work-life balance.

Resources (books and related podcasts)