Jan Kubr

Posts Tagged ‘flextime’

Do you check your work e-mail at home?

In Uncategorized on January 19, 2008 at 10:50

Having read the Freedom = Success article I pointed to, I continued with an NYT article about “falling-down professions.” I especially liked this part of it:

“Especially among young people, professional status is now inextricably linked to ideas of flexibility and creativity, concepts alien to seemingly everyone but art students even a generation ago.

‘There used to be this idea of having a separate work self and home self,’ he said. ‘Now they just want to be themselves.’ “

My dream has always been not to have the work and “real” lives too separated. I mean you spent one third of your life working, so does it make any sense to detach it from the other third you’re awake? It’s just weird, I am one person, not two. This is what Paul Graham has to say on this topic in his Why to Not Not Start a Startup:

“The thing that really sucks about having a regular job is the expectation that you’re supposed to be there at certain times.

(…)

In a startup, you skip all that. There’s no concept of office hours in most startups. Work and life just get mixed together. But the good thing about that is that no one minds if you have a life at work. In a startup you can do whatever you want most of the time. If you’re a founder, what you want to do most of the time is work. But you never have to pretend to.”

Yes, “Work and life just get mixed together,” that’s what I mean. But does everyone who wants to live like this start a startup? Everyone has families, relatives, friends, hobbies, aka “life.” Now why can’t you do something you love (or like, at least) and mix it with the other things you are passionate about? Why do you need to sit in the office every day from 9 to 5, then shut your computer down and never check your e-mail before the next shift (how awful) starts?

Let’s say it’s an early afternoon and there’s nothing major you need to do, but you’d like to take your girlfriend out. Now, watch the brave and oh-so-daring part: You do it! And then there might be an important e-mail you need to take care of that came in Saturday morning (let’s say from another timezone). So many people would wait till Monday morning to answer it. Which I don’t get, but I think it’s just the company culture. You force me to work certain hours, I won’t work outside of them. But you should just work when there’s work to be done, no? With some balance of course, but it doesn’t have to be that rigid, does it?

It seems like a no-brainer. Then why can’t most companies do what Best Buy was able to do?

‘Our whole notion of paid work was developed within an assembly line culture,’ Moen says. ‘Showing up was work. Best Buy is recognizing that sitting in a chair is no longer working.’

(…)

‘For years I had been focused on the wrong currency,’ says Thompson. ‘I was always looking to see if people were here. I should have been looking at what they were getting done.’

because today

It’s O.K. to take a nap on a Tuesday afternoon, grocery shop on Wednesday morning, or catch a movie on Thursday afternoon.

It is much easier to be flexible and have work freedom if you’re an independent contractor or work for yourself. In companies, this is apparently much harder than it seems. But it’s coming.

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A link visited: Freedom = Success by Polly Labarre

In Uncategorized on January 17, 2008 at 12:20

I just changed the copy on the Flempo homepage yesterday to show better the point. Check it out.

And then I read Freedom = Success (And Not The Other Way Around). It is coming. Maybe not very very soon (especially here in Europe), but not only am I ready, but I am so so excited about it. Highlights:

“The really interesting shift isn’t from one profession to the next, but from one way of thinking about the arc of a career and working life in general to the next. It goes something like this:

Old version: work hard (for a very long time), achieve success, earn freedom (to retire and do all the things you missed out on while you were working)

 

New version: find work that affords you freedom = success

(…)

Our assumptions about how work works, where we work, and when we work are relics of the industrial age. That’s not a new problem. ROWE finally addresses it.

The basic principle: people can do whatever they want, whenever they want, as long as the work gets done. Period. You can come in at 2pm on Tuesday. Leave at 3pm on Friday. Go grocery shopping at 10am on Wednesday. Take a nap or go to the movies anytime. Do your work while following your favorite band around the country.

(…)

The results have been spectacular: an average 35% boost in productivity in divisions working in ROWE and a decrease in voluntary turnover by 52-90% depending on department. “