Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Flexible "Weekends"

In the nearly three years since I've been consulting from home, traditional weekends have gradually disappeared from my work routine. It's now more unusual for me not to work on a weekend than it is for me to draft a section of a report or perform some other work task on a Saturday or Sunday. Kind of reminds me of my days at Crowell & Moring when I typically worked at least part of one day every weekend. There's a huge difference, of course. Back then, I was also working 10-hour days all week, which meant a few months of barely seeing my former condo in daylight. I see a lot more daylight these days. I also burn a lot more midnight oil, working on reports at night after the kids are asleep.

I'm a "shifted librarian," but not in Jenny Levine's insightful sense. Released from the constraints of a 9-to-5 (or 8-to-7) schedule and its companion time-eater, commuting in Washington, I now shift my time across all seven days and 24 hours. It's for that reason that I was intrigued by Tammy Erickson's post, Do We Need Weekends? on Harvard Business Publishing's site. Ms. Erickson is a respected researcher and the author of several books and articles on how successful organizations work.

Ms. Erickson examines the concept of "synchronous work" as a factor that fuels the need to cluster workers together in the same place at the same time. As that type of work erodes, she argues that there's less need to maintain these rigid schedules. She also comments on the role of the Gen Ys in redefining work. A lively discussion appears in the post's Comments.

I must confess to missing weekends every now and then. It does feel as if I never stop working - and the arrival of my new Treo a few minutes ago to replace my dead cell phone promises to make that feeling grow. Fortunately, it takes only a minute or so to come back to my senses and thank my lucky stars that I have this flexibility - at least for the time being. So what if I have to work on a Saturday morning? If that buys me time on Friday afternoon to run my Girl Scout troop meetings, I can live with that. I just wish I could figure out how to promote telecommuting as a benefit for other librarians.