In the past year, I endured a global pandemic, grieved the loss of a beloved pet, planned a wedding, moved several times, and survived typhoons – all while starting a new job here at Ciena.

As many can probably identify with, needing time off from work can be stressful, especially when you have just started at a company and haven’t been able to prove yourself yet. Or at least for me, it used to be stressful. Until joining Ciena, I’d only known a work environment where putting in extended hours resulted in more praise than finishing your task efficiently. Said differently, where my work was dictated by a rigid schedule, rather than what the work required of me.

I have now been exposed to a whole new way of thinking, where the true mark of success is based on your output and not the hours you clocked in—regardless of what time zone you're in. And this approach is set for us by our senior leadership.

Gary Smith Quote_Flexible CultureYou don’t go with the flow, you decide it

At Ciena, I quickly learned that it’s about working efficiently, smarter and having each other’s back to allow time away from work. Since joining in November 2020, I have been able to make my job work around my life, instead of fitting in my life around work.

Having discovered that I am neurodiverse, I have come to realize that a typical 8am to 5pm work schedule will never work best for someone like me. At Ciena, I am empowered to prioritize what my mind and body need and understand how and when I am capable of working at my fullest. With this, I have slowly transitioned to a personalized schedule that allows me to maximize my potential–surpassing my own expectations and goals for my first year here.

Flexibility isn’t just about the day to day

Being aware of differences in individuals’ daily lives isn’t the only way Ciena applies this flexible philosophy to work schedules. Ciena also recently extended our Flexible Paid Time Off (PTO) program to cover the 97% of our workforce, so employees across the globe no longer have to worry about running out of annual leave to tend to personal commitments or their own wellbeing.

Jane Hobbs Quote_Global PTO

This extraordinary level of flexibility has empowered me to take more time off for myself – something I haven’t done in a decade. For the first time, I was able to attend both the Christmas and New Year’s holidays with family and friends, while not having to worry about work during my time off (especially because Ciena provided us with a year-end break by closing that week!).

I also didn’t have to worry about exhausting my PTO when the typhoons happened, when my dog passed away, or when I simply needed a mental and emotional break. This has enabled me to be a better and happier person, therefore a more productive and fulfilled employee.

Listing of Employee Benefits_Ciena

So, I guess I never really have to worry about personal time, as long as I am accountable for my work? Sounds like a good deal to me.

Take it from me. You should be in a place where you are empowered and trusted enough to get the job done whenever, wherever and however works best for you. A workplace that knows some days are just not the most industrious and you’ll try again tomorrow - and that’s okay.