A C-suite leader’s firm stand
on flex time goes viral

Daniel Harmon’s social-video firm has made some cringey (but really useful) products best-sellers the world over—Squatty Potty and Poo~Pourri among them.  Chief Creative Officer of Utah-based Harmon Brothers, he’s responsible for another recent social phenomenon: A Jan. 22 Linkedin post about workplace flexibility that has racked up close to 4,500 positive reactions and more than 550 comments, and counting.

“I don’t care what time you come to work,” Harmon’s post began. “I don’t care what time you leave. I don’t care if you want to work from home. I don’t care when you want to go on vacation. You can come and go as you please—whether you have a dentist appointment, a daughter’s soccer game, or a movie you really want to see—AS LONG AS YOU PERFORM.”

Flexible work scheduleHis post concluded by acknowledging that Harmon Brothers’ culture of workplace flexibility may not work for all firms, “…but we like it, and it has helped us produce some pretty great results for our clients (1.5 billion views and $400 million in sales).”

Passion and positivity

CultureIQ decided to post an alert about Harmon’s viral words, and it has become one of our most-viewed on Linkedin – with more than 300,000 impressions, 500 positive reactions and 30 comments.

Most of the comments on CultureIQ’s and Harmon’s post favor Harmon’s views on flexibility (and many favor it passionately), with a minority striking notes of negativity or caution. Here are a few from our post:

  • “Wish more companies treated their employees like adults rather than keeping their children (employees) in line. If you are performing, it shouldn’t matter how much time you are dedicating. Sometimes that dedication is proven more by letting your employees fly and be trusted!”
  • “Flexibility is an awesome thing to have when the type of work you do is conducive to it.  It does increase morale…I am a living witness.  IF someone abuses it, it will be evident in miss deadlines, shoddy work, etc. and that person can be restricted to a “set schedule” for a set time. “
  • “Yes! one of the greatest epiphanies occur in unlikeliest places due to diffused thinking.”

On the surface, the success of Harmon’s post may seem like it’s all about flexibility. And survey data can lead to the same conclusion. According to a 2018 HBR survey, 96% of U.S. professionals want flexibility, but only 47% have it. Employer benefits, from retention to real estate to environmental concerns, may mean flexibililty will become the new norm soon, some prognosticators say.

It’s really about trust

But the desire for more flex time actually points to bigger issues around employer trust and leaders’ ability to evaluate performance, says David Shanklin, CultureIQ’s Managing Director of Culture Solutions. “Leaders who have trust issues often make two terrible assumptions,” he says. “The first is that leaders assume employees who are out of the office are not working, when in fact, employees usually say they can get work done more efficiently out of the office. The second terrible assumption is that if you are at the office you are working and we know that the office can be full of distractions.”

But there’s a solution for leaders who fear being burned, or have been burned by offering employees flexible time, Shanklin says. “If you put into place an effective way to evaluate performance, that will ensure that trust and accountability become a two-way street.  In a strong culture you see people policing themselves because they know that trust is important and that they will be held accountable.”

Trust, and clear performance expectations are the recipe for success,” Shanklin says. “Clear expectations and goals are the guardrails, and trust means giving employees the maximum amount of freedom to accomplish those goals, within those guardrails. Given all of the technology at our fingertips, where your work gets done is not often a necessary guardrail.”