Flexible work options bring thanks

Social media posts this week confirmed the three most popular reasons to give thanks – family, friends and a four-day weekend.

Scores of posts and tweets about blissful days away from work have me wondering … does anyone like his job? Do hundreds of thousands of unemployed Americans spend every day grasping for a chance at a job just so they can dream of a four-day weekend?

One friend gave me this perspective; “Don’t get me wrong, I like what I do and I don’t mind my job, I just don’t want to be there.”

So it seems like this recession offers the ideal time to evaluate the way we work and make improvements that benefit the employee, the employer and the environment. News articles and blogs point to a shift in how we exchange goods and services and earn money. Thankfully the shift includes flexible options.

Small businesses are springing up like wildflowers in the Pacific Northwest. I doubt these new business owners expect many four-day weekends, but they don’t have to worry about getting fired. They work long hours, yet can arrange a work schedule that starts earlier (in pajamas if desired), accommodates family time and is all around more flexible. It’s hard to hide from the office, but you are the boss.

Home offices are another viable option for disciplined people. Truthfully, if our bosses said, “here is your stack of work for the day, leave when it’s done,” most people would not be in the office eight hours a day. Those that can avoid distractions will be more efficient and hopefully more content.

An idea I am really fond of is flextime. The brilliant concept is widely popular in other countries and could answer issues of recession, conservation, and life-work balance. As suggested by the name, the flex differs from person to person. Some want to avoid high traffic times and others need to be home when the school bus arrives. Many workers telecommute part time just because they can.

Another friend planned to leave her design job and be a consultant for other companies. She loves her company yet struggles to balance family time and work time, especially with set hours, commuting and two children. Instead of letting her go, the company’s head honcho offered her a part-time, work-from-home option in which she dictated the hours and schedule. The company retained an amazing designer and my friend got everything she needed.

On the green side of things, offices that work four 10-hour shifts, like many government bureaus, conserve energy and fuel. I realize a 10-hour work day is not ideal for all. But, the timing is right to consider all options that would help people get more three-day weekends and save companies money. It’s feasible that we can come out of the recession with more people laboring joyfully – and tweets and posts to prove it.

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