I am an ardent advocate of flexi hours. I have seen that both personally and with others, when given an option of flexibility, the will to go the extra length is stronger and productivity is really high.
Of course, there will always be someone who is trying to skive off work or exploit the trust. But by and large, it works well. In fact, the only places where fixed hours — replete with a time office counting the minutes/seconds — are still prevalent are government or other inefficient/unproductive organizations.
I’ve been in employment for nearly 13 years, and barring a horrendous 3 months, have only worked in places that offer flexi hours.
Probably because I totally love my line of work, I don’t even realise that flexi hours often ends up as really long hours. Since I am not willing to account for the hours of the day, I go overboard accounting for quality of my work and the load I’m willing to pull.
Often this means working weekends, late nights, without a break…
In every place I’ve worked in I’ve come across pedantic folks who talk about face time, and clocking hours. Folks who would spend hours away from the desk smoking/drinking coffee/praying/chatting. Folks who would leave at the dot of 5 or 6 or whatever the exit time is. Folks who would whine about putting in a few extra hours now and then…
Those folks, I am glad to say, have little or no influence over how I or the people I work with, function.
But after all these years, I am feeling the strain of flexi hours.
I’ve also come to realize that flexi hours can be quite exploitative.
Though during my first pregnancy I experienced no dip in energy levels, this time around I am quite easily sapped. I am now in my third trimester, and find it rather impossible to work without breaks in between. Must be age as well… just a few months short of 35!
And now I wish I worked fixed hours – which here would mean 5 hours in the morning, 2 hour break and 3 hours in the evening. Then when I go home, I go home! I am not working… While at office, I would be taking the dozen 10 minute breaks a lot of people tend to take.
I would have then been in a position to turn down any work that requires me to work more than these hours…
But no, not only did I practice flexi hours, I preached it with passion.
Now it’s too late to retract. So like the fabled dumb mule, I allow myself to be overloaded with work.
I sit glued to my work station for hours without moving or little movement – something that the doc has advised against; I nurse terrible back and pelvic pain/discomfort; I try and manage the ever-growing team with patience that is wearing thin – for no fault of theirs really; I am trying to finish all the work within the sanest possible hours. I come back home to an annoyed daughter (the drama queen feels neglected), try and do the best by her and get down to work again as soon as she is asleep.
The worst part of it all? I have no one to blame, but myself! In fact, I have some splendid colleagues who have chipped in so much to not make me feel or sound like a whiner.
I have only recently learnt to say ‘no’… it used to be a torturous exercise earlier to turn down requests. I just need to practice saying it more often and more forcefully.
So maybe there is something to be said in favour of fixed hours… not that I could ever embrace that system, but I do see the (few) pros of it.
PS: I know that there are people out there who are nodding sagaciously to themselves, and concretising their opinions on why equal opportunity doesn’t work. Just want to tell those pompous asses: try carrying a pebble in your tummy for a day, while carrying on your regular work… then come back and argue equal opportunities with us.