After years of relatively little flexibility in those things I've been experiencing more and more latitude. This has increased my satisfaction and effectiveness in some ways, but not in others.
Certainly, not having to rush to be at the office for those 8:00 prayer meetings every day has been a plus, even though I miss the content of those meetings a great deal. For years, I kept regular 8-5 office hours (as was expected) but then stayed late so I could actually get things done when people were gone. Now, I have plenty of peace and quiet for getting things done. The last couple of weeks have been great. I work and rest and eat and exercise at the times that feel right with me. The benefit on my health, stress level, etc. is huge. But I don't have a regular group of people to have lunch with and pray with every day, as once I did. That feels like a considerable loss. I'm trying some strategies to get that synergy and fellowship in other ways. So far these strategies are working quite well, but that's something I'll have to monitor over time.
What a benefit it is to be freed to do things your own way. What a cost it is to find yourself alone and out of step with others. Take the simple question of family dinner time. If one person eats at 6:00, another at 8:00, neither can have the satisfaction of dinner together. Similarly, you may miss much of the satisfaction of working together with others if people don't consistently come to the office and keep some kind of regular hours. Sometimes - especially in a larger group - you can find enough people who are wired to want what you want, and give the others freedom to do things their way as well, and it isn't such a battle. But usually there's some need to bring the whole group together, and it's hard to please everybody in such cases. Besides, even with the best of "matches," human personality is such a complicated thing that I believe we will always find a few "irreconcilable differences."
How much of our personal preferences will we sacrifice and ask others to sacrifice so we can walk the same path together? Where will we compromise for the good of the group or give in to honor someone else's preference?
Of course, within any group of coworkers, family members, or friends you may find varying levels of desire for that togetherness. For some, it may be worth sacrificing all; others may not feel any benefit from their compromise. That can lead to a lot of frustration, can't it? You may feel, "these people don't care about each other because they don't want to be with each other," or "these people don't value each other because they're trying to control each other."
One of the books I read this year mentioned some research that had been done on stress in the workplace. This research suggested not only that some people function best in the mornings and others in the evenings, but also that some are at their best at the start of the week and others toward the end. This comes from our hormonal patterns and ultimately from our genetic mix. So, how are you going to plan meetings? And, are you going to ask people to give the best time of their day or week to meetings, or leave people free to give that "best time" to other aspects of their work or lives?
"There are people who insist on holding planning committee meetings on a Monday afternoon. This means half their members are not really with it; they only begin to come to life about Wednesday noon by which time the other half are stating to go down. So a wise leader plans committee meetings on a Wednesday afternoon when there is hope of getting something out of all of them ... We should never, of course, use our physical structure as an excuse for behaving badly...but it does help to have a bit of understanding and to plan sensibly." (Marjory Foyle in Honorably Wounded: Stress among Christian Workers)May God give us grace to know ourselves, how we work, what we need, and how much we can flex on these things without breaking. May we navigate these questions with grace and love for one another.