Flexible Work Arrangements: Do They Truly Exist?

How to talk to your boss when you need to pare down
Flexible Work Arrangements: Do They Truly Exist?

There is a time to press forward at work, and a time to lean back; a time to work overtime, and a time to work part-time. This would be my rendition of Ecclesiastes 3:1–2, paraphrased for the working woman. What Solomon actually wrote says, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.” Whether it’s about work or any other aspect of my life, these verses always remind me to trust in God’s timing and to let go of my own expectations. In the course of your career, you will experience many seasons. It’s one thing to recognize that you need to adjust your work schedule, but it’s quite another to get there.

If you’re lucky, you work for an employer who offers flexible work arrangements. Most women today are not that lucky. In fact, studies show that many simply quit their jobs when they are faced with a situation that demands major adjustments to their work schedule or location. If you’re frustrated with rigid work requirements that don’t fit your life, it’s possible that quitting could be the right thing for your season—it could be exactly the choice God wants for you. But keep in mind that quitting is not your only choice.

It’s one thing to recognize that you need to adjust your work schedule, but it’s quite another to get there.

Leaning Back

When my own “leaning back” season came, I was at a high point in my career, serving as President of Global Corporate Services for a Fortune 500 Company (CBRE), and I was well-positioned to advance further. I had a terrific team and a boss I liked and respected. In short, work was going well. But my son Christian, then 17, was in crisis. I had known for several years that he was struggling emotionally and had turned to drug use, but because he was living with his father at the time, there was little I could do beyond my fervent prayers and frequent phone calls. I prayed that God would work a miracle in his heart, and one day, after being arrested for the second time and even spending a night in jail, Christian’s heart began to soften ever so slightly. He asked to move back home with me. I said yes, but with conditions.

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Diane Paddison

Diane Paddison is a business professional and founder of 4wordwomen.org, local groups of professional working women committed to faith, family, work, and each other.

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