Episode 159.5 – Green Apple Slice


Flexible Work Environments Improve Job Performance



The Green Apple Podcast does weekly “Green Apple Slices”, where John Garrett and Rachel Fisch discuss a recent business article related to the Green Apple Message. These shorter segments are released each Monday, so don’t miss an episode by subscribing on iTunes or an Android app.

This week, John and Rachel discuss a CPA Practice Advisor article, “Flexible Work Environments Improve Job Performance“.


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    Good morning. It’s John Garrett coming to you with another episode of Green Apple Slices. I have on the other line the Accountants Group Leader in Canada for Sage, Rachel Fisch.

    Rachel: Hello. Oh, my goodness. You got it right.

    John: Yes, I know. See, the end of the month, that’s why. I had some practice. Yeah, but things are good. I just got back from Tucson, Arizona, where I spoke at an all-staff event for BeachFleischmann. They’re doing some cool stuff there and new brands roll out, a new logo, all kind of crazy, neat stuff.

    Rachel: Oh, cool.

    John: Yeah. And then I fly out later today to Dallas to speak at a firm, and then stick around the next day for a little consulting to roll out some of this stuff and put it into action.+

    Rachel: That’s awesome. I just got home from a week in Halifax. What an amazing city, if you have a chance to get into the East Coast. I’m just about to get on a plane for our West Coast accounting technology tour. So I’ll be in Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Victoria, New Westminster and Vancouver by the end of the week.

    John: That’s all in one week?

    Rachel: Oh, yeah. That’s all in one week.

    John: Oh, man!

    Rachel: It’s a really busy week. Have I mentioned that? I get next week at home. I’m very much looking forward to that.

    John: Awesome. Well, I mean, I guess that leads in nicely to the article that we were going to talk about, about flexible work environments. They’ve actually found that it improves job performance. So that’s pretty fantastic. It was a CPA Practice Advisor article that references a Robert Half blog. It’s something that I think the accounting profession struggles with so much. There are the events that I speak at and people will ask, “Are we going to have flexible work schedules and partners?” They’re like, “No!” And I want to ask, “Why not?”

    Rachel: Why not? Right. So I was kind of encouraged by the title of the article. And then as I read, it wasn’t like full-on flexible schedules. It was like four 10-hour days instead of five eight-hour days.

    John: Right.

    Rachel: Well, that’s not totally what I think of when I think of flexible schedules.

    John: Right, exactly. In the Robert Half blog, they actually had types of flexible work arrangements. So there were some that were a little more, I guess, progressive like flextime where it’s basically people can structure their day, if they have to go home and pick up their kids at three from school, or if they have an event they have to go to or something that they do, or maybe their hobby or passion is something that they need to go do. But they get their work done later in the night, or they stay the next day longer. That’s flextime. It’s allowing the work to have them be able to live is really the idea.

    Rachel: That appeals to me much more because genuinely I could not work the same schedule five days in a row. We’ve got piano lessons and gymnastics and doctor’s appointments and sick time with kids. Life just doesn’t work like that, right? But you can guarantee that I will have my work done by the time I need to have my work done, no questions. So I just feel like that shouldn’t be — I don’t know if it’s punishing. I don’t know. But I do think that along with accounting firms, taking longer to recognize that colleagues are people too. This kind of goes along with it, that we’re just not quite there yet. How many times have we had the conversation about value pricing? But, again, the industry itself is so ingrained in hourly billing and charge codes and on all of that stuff, it feels like it’s going to take a while to really be content there.

    John: Somewhere Ron Baker is clapping his hands, pumping his fists in the air, right? Yes!

    Rachel: Yeah. It’s certainly something that’s really tough to implement. But I think there are so many cultural things that are so deeply embedded into a traditional accounting firm that trying to talk about flextime is like what?

    John: Yeah, no, absolutely. The article gives some other examples though which are ones that I never even really thought about, I guess, as being flexible work schedules. But just, like you mentioned, the compressed work week where it’s four 10-hour days, but then there’s job sharing where it’s like two part-time employees do the work of the one full time, of course, telecommuting, people that aren’t in person physically in the office, but they’re still getting the work done. Or there’s the permanent part-time people. For different reasons, maybe people just want to dial it down and be part time. That’s okay too.

    I had Teryn Grater on the Wednesday episode of Green Apple Podcast. She was talking about how people are just leaving the profession because people go to have families, or they go and want to have other things. It was either you work 40 plus hours a week or nothing. So then they’re like, “Well, then I’m not going to be in accounting.” So that’s really bad for the profession as a whole. This would help alleviate because there’s still a lot of talent there.

    Rachel: Absolutely.

    John: There was also one thing here that was really interesting, how they did a survey of whose responsibility is it to see that workers have a healthy work-life balance? Is it more the employees, or is it more of the company? And 52% said that it was equally both, which I thought was interesting. And even then, if you add them all up, yeah, I guess it’s about the same. It was right down the middle.

    Rachel: Do you agree? Not agree? I know you said it was —

    John: Yeah, I think it’s more on the individual, to be honest. I would say it’s primarily the employees but with some help from the company.

    Rachel: Yeah, it certainly needs to be enabled by the company, right?

    John: Well, in my example, when I was at PwC, it wasn’t discouraged, but it certainly wasn’t encouraged to talk about anything. I just did because I was too dumb to know you weren’t supposed to, I guess, and it worked out. I think that a lot of times we’re always sitting around waiting for permission. Just do it. It’s not terrible

    Rachel: Just take this as your permission. John and Rachel said that…

    John: There you go. No, Rachel and John said…

    Rachel: Oh, even better.

    John: Right. But I think that that’s the case is for people just to step up and share because people really care. So there we go. Like when you’re singing, everybody cares.

    Rachel: Sure.

    John: So on that note, everybody, see what I did? Pun intended. We’re going to wrap this one up. Have safe travels, Rachel. We’ll talk to you next week. Don’t forget to hit Subscribe, everybody, and catch all the episodes every Monday with Rachel and every Wednesday with a different person, hearing about people with passions and interests outside of work. So have a good one, Rachel.

    Rachel: You too. Talk to you later, John.

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