Beginning this Friday, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center will join other NASA centers in adopting Quiet Friday – an agencywide day dedicated to minimizing distractions and enhancing work-life balance.
Under this new initiative, all NASA centers will continue to operate under normal business hours, but centers, programs, projects and organizations are encouraged not to schedule recurring meetings – other than those required to accomplish the mission – on the second Friday of each pay period.
“The intent is to allow employees to focus on work priorities and deadlines without meeting interruptions,” NASA Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk said. “It will also allow for better work-life balance by providing employees an opportunity to take a day off, or catch up on work obligations, without feeling the pressure of scheduled meetings.”
To the maximum extent possible, the agency is encouraging telework on Quiet Friday. If compatible with their schedules, civil servants will have the option to flex time to work 80 hours over nine days, or to work an alternate schedule with permission from their supervisors. Contractors working at a NASA facility should follow their respective company’s guidance for schedule adjustments.
In order to align Marshall’s operations with the agency’s Quiet Friday, the center is shifting its Flex Friday from the first Friday of each pay period to the second Friday of each pay period. Marshall’s Flex Friday began in fiscal year 2019 as an initiative to align the center’s existing use of flexible work schedules, including telework, to garner utility cost and facility operations cost savings. Like Quiet Friday, this schedule allowed flexible work arrangements for employees to encourage a healthy work-life balance. Thousands of schedules were unified around the center, which led to increased productivity among the workforce and even allowed the center to minimize the inconvenience and costly overtime rates often associated with maintenance of the facility.
By operating a number of buildings in a limited “weekend mode” for just 26 additional days during the year, Flex Friday savings have helped contribute to a variety of improvement projects, including life safety and fire protection systems, parking lot restriping in the 4700 area, elevator reliability improvements, and various exterior maintenance projects. Savings have also allowed the center to reinvest in energy conservation projects like LED lighting. These savings will resume with Quiet Fridays as employees return to on-site work beyond the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“Successfully implementing Flex Friday tested Marshall’s telework capabilities and on-site options to prepare for future emergencies,” Marshall Associate Director Steve Miley said. “Now, Quiet Friday is starting up agencywide to help maintain a balance of communication, collaboration and individual productivity.”
When mission requirements make Quiet Friday impracticable, leaders are asked to determine other options that will allow employees to have the same opportunities presented by Quiet Friday. Supervisors, managers, project leads, and others should not schedule meetings on Quiet Fridays unless it is mission-essential and not possible to be scheduled on an alternate day. Center directors, mission directors and officials in charge may approve either a temporary or permanent exception to the Quiet Friday program for an individual, group of individuals or organization where needed to support mission requirements.
Editor’s note: Taylor Goodwin, an ASRC Federal/Analytical Services employee, supports Marshall’s Office of Strategic Analysis & Communications.