20 October 2008

Jared Make Good Point

You read.

As someone who comes from a long line of "not a morning person" people (true story: Thanksgiving 2002 my folks, spouse and I are visiting/staying with my brother and SIL. I wake up on Friday at 9:30 am and am the first person up by OVER AN HOUR), I would LOVE to dramatically change my work day.

BF is technically open to flex hours, but it is still the case that we're all mostly here from around 9-9:30 to around 5:30-6, M-F. A few weeks ago, I had a very busy beginning of the week and knocked off early Friday (still putting in over 40 hours for the week) and got called out for it. I was a bit annoyed. (Also, I'm not used to watching the clock or having my clock watched, so I'm still adjusting to that, too.)

And it made me think of something that occurred to me this past spring, as I was standing in the interminable line at Behnke's on a Saturday in April, cursing my luck and noting that, at 2 pm on a Tuesday, the place is probably dead (even in April).

What would the world look like if we each got to put in our 40 hours whenever in the week made the most sense for us?

I realize there are some potential logisitical problems here. Should I really be allowed to mainline Provigil, put in my 40 hours straight, starting Monday at 8 am and finishing up in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, and then be off the rest of the week? What if I'm REALLY a night person (or dating a bartender or a nurse) and want to work 11 pm to 7 am? Won't that make it hard to schedule client meetings or check in on projects face to face with my colleagues?

On the other hand, why is life still set up like it was in the era when the Man in the Grey Flannel Suit had a Feminine Mystique spouse to take care of all the errands and chores during the week for him when we're ALL working now, which means you can't get a parking space at the Safeway on Saturday at 11 am for love or money?

And why shouldn't my avid gardener colleague take off a sunny Wednesday, if it's going to rain all weekend? Why shouldn't my grad student colleague rearrange her schedule to take some weekday classes and work some evenings or weekends? Why are we still pretending that our schedules and responsibilities haven't changed since the 1950s?


David M. Patt, CAE said...

More "not a morning person" people should come out of the closet (there are a lot of them in our business).

It's rare that something has to be done early in the morning that can't be done later.

As an Executive Director for 25 years, I know that everybody does not need to be in the office at the same time. This isn't an assembly line. A good manager will know that.

Maggie said...

I couldn't agree more. I am lucky to work for an association well known for its culture of work/life balance. It took me 4 years to get a job here but it was well worth it. The people here are the most creative, engaged and productive I've ever worked with, and in no way is the level or quality of work reduced because people are allowed to set their own schedules. Just the opposite, in fact.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comments, y'all!

@David - I've always felt the same way and didn't really care when my own staff worked, as long as the work got done. And in theory, many places *say* that's their stance, too, but in reality, your butt better be in the chair 9-5 (which is a whole other rant, the short version is which is face time does not equal productivity)

@Maggie - sounds like a great place to work! Do you run into issues with staff whose schedules need to be a little more scheduled, though (like receptionists, customer service reps, etc.)?

Maggie said...

I know there are some positions--IT, probably reception, possibly others--that have set hours and also aren't eligible to telecommute. I guess that's the rub with the flexible schedule--you have to find not only a company that allows it but positions that are eligible.

Hopefully more companies will start to promote telecommuting. Especially with the whole "green" thing--it just doesn't make sense to me for a company to reduce paper, put on green meetings, etc--but not care about the emissions produced by employees driving an hour back and forth each day. All so they can sit at computers they already have at home anyway.

Anonymous said...

@Maggie - I think a lot of it's going to come down to affordable, effective video conferencing. People still like to see other people, and a face to face conversation is usually more efficient than sending 100 emails back and forth. But cheap video conferencing still looks, well, cheap, and the good stuff's still really expensive. But I sure would love to skip the commute!

Lisa Junker said...

Add me to the "pro flexible schedules" list. I come in to my office crazy early, both to beat traffic in the DC area and to make sure that I can leave early enough to pick up my kids. I wouldn't work somewhere that didn't allow me to do that. And I personally think it's a good thing that I'm here a few hours before the rest of my team; it means that I get a few concentrated hours in before they get in, and then get some concentrated hours in after I leave. Where's the downside? Other than in those specific jobs where flex hours just aren't possible, I don't see it.

Amanda said...

I have worked in a flexible schedule enviroment for over 6 years now. Working for an Association that has members nation-wide, and some international, with our offices on the East Coast - it is a benefit to our members on the west coast to have those on staff that are not "morning people." They are typically in the office later than most and can answer the calls from the west coast. We do have some positions that are 8-5, normal business hours (for example our receptionist), but the flex schedule is really based upon the position and supervisor.

I also telework full-time. Sometimes I start working at 7am - yeah, and I used to not be a morning person. Sometimes I end up working until 11pm. Teleworking enhances the flexibility. I don't mind putting in the extra hours or they are easier than if I had to work 60 - 70 hours in the office. It is also safer, I'm not in the office by myself and do not have to leave by myself late at night. Teleworking deserves its own discussion - I love it and am very grateful to be able to be in a management position where I can telework. Flex schedules are great for work/life balance, teleworking options are even better!