Children Aside, We're All In This Together

By Rebeldad Brian Reid

Lately, the comments have hosted some child-free vs. parent fighting. I find that conflict as tired as all of the other trumped-up "wars": the myth of dads fighting dads, moms fighting moms, city parents fighting suburbanites, at-homes fighting go-to-works, dogs fighting cats and so on. The rallying cry of the child-free is usually some variation of "why should workers with kids arrive late/leave early/telecommute/work part-time/etc. when I can't?" The better question is this: Why shouldn't everyone, regardless of rugrats, be able to arrive late/leave early/telecommute/etc.?

Folks, we're all on the same side here. Just as I think we'd have a happier, more productive workforce if parents weren't given the stark choice between 50+ hour workweeks or full-time at-home parenthood, I think we'd have a happier, more productive workforce if everyone had a few more options about how to arrange their lives.

Making sure that everyone has access to flexibility would obviously act as a great deterrent to burnout and probably boost satisfaction and retention, lower training costs and, perhaps, boost hourly productivity. (I can't recall the numbers off the top of my head, but it strikes me that some of the big consulting firms have shown something like this. Can the collective wisdom of the readership help me out here?)

More important, giving everyone the opportunity to shift away from the 24/7 work culture would have a positive effect on all sorts of things that defy measurement. I'm sure those child-free types would love to have a few extra hours to pursue their passions -- to volunteer, to take up a new sport, to explore the arts, to build a company in their garage. Google, a company that seems to recognize that making the work day more pleasant (if not shorter), has adopted this as a corporate philosophy, and they seem to be making a go of it.

The future is going to be dominated by engaged, creative people. I'm betting that the most engaging and creative people -- whether they have kids or not -- aren't the ones chained to their desks from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. So, let's agree that balance and flexibility shouldn't be the sole domain of the parent. We could all use a little more variety in our choices.

Brian Reid writes about parenting and work-family balance. You can read his blog at rebeldad.com.

By Brian Reid |  November 9, 2006; 7:30 AM ET  | Category:  Conflicts
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well put.

Posted by: people will find anything to fight about | November 9, 2006 8:12 AM

Amen!
*smooch*

Posted by: Missicat | November 9, 2006 8:16 AM

Yeah balance for all and thoughtful dialogue between people in all different situations.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | November 9, 2006 8:25 AM

I honestly think it starts with redefining the workweek. If companies took a hard look at the weak spots in their productivity, I would bet it's due to the tough demands that is made on all of it's employees. Just commuting to work is stressful enough. Think about it. Whoever said that the majority of people needed to be at work and punch that clock during the same time frame was nuts.

If we could somehow redefine schedules, telecommuting options, compressed workweeks, etc., I think this country as a whole would be a lot less stressed and sleep deprived. Company morale would boost, and overall health would improve.

Posted by: literarygirl | November 9, 2006 8:27 AM

When it comes right down to the nitty griddy, Women, who are mothers of children are more important than both men and childless women. This attitude will be reflected in any decent society.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 8:27 AM

"When it comes right down to the nitty griddy, Women, who are mothers of children are more important than both men and childless women. This attitude will be reflected in any decent society."

Yes, because becoming a mother is the only thing women are here for.

(And the only thing they could possibly be good at.)

Gag me.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 8:30 AM

In my experience, all employers are extremely flexible in respecting that we have lives outside of work. So that's about 6 successful companies that never had a problem letting me take time off when i needed or run out the door for whatever. Didn't matter when I was single, just out of college, and living with my parents, till now - married with a child. And yes, these were all profitable companies, and I made a more-than-adequate salary everywhere. I think that this flexibility is endemic to the computer/IT industry (like the Google comment). So I'd suggest when thinking about careers, keep this in mind.

Posted by: f01 | November 9, 2006 8:40 AM

Any "decent society" considers all who are in it important.

Posted by: IW4C | November 9, 2006 8:52 AM

Women, who are mothers of children are more important than both men and childless women.

http://www.speroforum.com/blog/entry.asp?wa=25&ENTRY_ID=358

She deserves a medal! She validates her life by spending time on her back! She's incredible!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 8:59 AM

I dunno- I think that it would also help if people who crave a flexible, low-stress job get a more realistic view of what it does to their career advancement prospects. The person who arrives early and stays late is probably getting more done than you, unless you're just so incredibly talented that you can squeeze 12 hours of work into 8.

Posted by: randdommom | November 9, 2006 9:00 AM

Great post today, Brian. I think adjusting attitudes about making the workplace more flexible for everyone needs to start with adjusting the mentality behind office politics. That is, the competitive, insecure, jockeying, petty mentality that makes it hard to arrive late and leave early/telework, etc. Everyone feels pressure to be there, to not miss anything, to not look like a slacker. There are employers who make their employees feel that working 40 hours a week only is slacking.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | November 9, 2006 9:02 AM

For years and years at my office, the only choice anyone had for a work schedule was Monday-Friday, 7:30 to 4:30, with an hour for lunch (we get Federal funding so have to follow their rules). Many employees resented this rigid work schedule, and several would leave per year to more flexible places.

Then, a few years ago, in an attempt to help reduce congestion and air pollution, the rules were relaxed. Now, as long as you put in your 40 hours, and someone is in the office during normal work hours (8:00-5:00), the actual start/end hours are very flexible.

We have people who work 5 8 hour days, 4 10 hour days, some of us work 4 9 hour days and 4 hours on the fifth day, and we can start work anywhere between 6:30 and 8:00.

Morale has gone up due to the more flexible hours and longer weekends, and productivity has gone up or at least remained the same.

Posted by: John | November 9, 2006 9:06 AM

To randommom: As I've argued before, I'd love to live in a world where career advancement isn't measured in hours, but in some other, more meaningful measure of productivity. I know plenty of people who can stretch 8 hours of work into 12 hours, and I know those who can do 12 hours of work in 8.

Posted by: Brian Reid | November 9, 2006 9:07 AM

Brian - great topic. Long before I became a mom I felt that rigid work hours were unproductive. We are no longer in a manufacturing economy where more hours = more products. Randommom I couldn't disagree with you more - many people I know can get more done in 8 hours than others do in 12. Hours spent at work is by no means an indication of the quality of work done. The sooner companies realise this the sooner EVERYONE's lives will improve. I just can't believe it's taking this long!

Posted by: fabworkingmom | November 9, 2006 9:14 AM

I agree with the idea 100%. Unfortunately, that is not how it works in reality. None of the partners I work for think twice about asking me to cancel plans with friends but they do think twice about someone's plans with their kids. Moreover, they aren't asking people with kids to pick up a move their life to Houston for 5 months like I had to, yet the parents get the very same paycheck. Kids are an excuse/reason that will always win the day. I understand because kids affirmative need their parents. I just wish I got a hardship bonus for giving up my entire life for 5 months so they did not have to go.

Posted by: Heather | November 9, 2006 9:16 AM

You might also test some assumptions. Some people put in 'extra hours' because they think that's what it takes to get noticed. As a manager, I do notice those folks -- and notice that they are trying to impress me with the wrong things (hours) because they generally aren't impressing me with the right things (good work). Too often, discussing this with them does not help -- they only feel pressed to 'do better' and react with more of the same rather than absorbing the quality message, not matter how clearly stated -- their pattern is their pattern and it's hard to break. I'll take an employee who can get it right the first time, focuses sufficiently during work hours to get it done, and leaves on time any day.

Posted by: VAtoddlerMom | November 9, 2006 9:20 AM

I'd love to work in a world where flexible office hours really worked out, but it just isn't possible for "the majority". Some people here can only see their white collar lives, they don't think of other work situations where, yes, you MUST be there at specific times or the work doesn't get done.

I have worked in a flexible office and it was annoying as hell to try to figure out who was in the office when in order to get things reviewed and signed off on. Technology could help this by keeping people "connected" to the workplace, but frankly, I'm not someone who wants to be connected to my workplace 24/7. I'd rather put in my hours, get my work done, and go home to my own life. A measure of flexiblity is great but there have to be limits or productivity WILL suffer. I for one would rather work in an office (like my current one) where there is leniency toward absences but the core hours are pretty strict.

The person who wrote that the real problem is petty politics and the bad attitudes toward workers and among workers was right on.

And finally, a company is not to blame if your commute is stressful. Find a home closer to your work, change jobs, telecommute -- YOU have choices, although you may not like the choices you have.

Posted by: LT | November 9, 2006 9:20 AM

When pple complain that others aren't doing what they do, they actally rarrely have all the information. How do you know the person who comes in later and leaves earlier isn't getting a smaller raise and/ or bonus than you? Or isn't earning less, or whatever. If you're unhappy, find another place that is more to your liking - or don't complain. It only takes years off your life.

But agreed-more flexibility by employerts leads to more productive employees and more loyal employees.

Posted by: atlmom | November 9, 2006 9:26 AM

Perhaps we will see some changes with a mom of five at the helm of the House of Rep. One can hope. Business raison de'etre is not what is best for it's workers and sometimes needs legislation to "see the light".

Posted by: nc mom | November 9, 2006 9:28 AM

To LT: I agree that people choose where they live -- for cost, school districts, and a variety of other reasons. But I don't think people are looking to blame their company for their commute -- they just want flexibility to make it work for both them and their employer. Moving isn't always an option just because the job moved (either for a temporary assignment or on a permanent basis).

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | November 9, 2006 9:29 AM

And finally, a company is not to blame if your commute is stressful. Find a home closer to your work, change jobs, telecommute -- YOU have choices, although you may not like the choices you have.

Not everyone has the option to do these things. It really depends. Some can't afford the housing closer to work, and others don't have the solid industry closer to where they live. And telecommuting might not be an option at all...

The way I see it though, is that a company is investing in you, your skills and time. If they want to keep said investment (and thus, maintain good productivity, retention), they'd make some accomodations.

Posted by: literarygirl | November 9, 2006 9:30 AM

hey randommom, how about the idea of quality not quanity? does working 12 hours really make for a better quality product? yes, you may be able to write more lines of code or more pages of a document or whatever product you're supposed to produce but does more necessarily mean better? not always.

Posted by: quark | November 9, 2006 9:33 AM

"Yes, because becoming a mother is the only thing women are here for."

No, it's because the next generation that will carry on after us is more important legacy than anything you could possibly be doing in the work force.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 9:34 AM

In general, I agree - I much prefer a work/life balance that gives me time for family, church, etc. But choice can include many things - it may not be that bad to have the option of choosing a job that requires 60 hours a week but brings advancement and high pay, or a job that only requires 40 hours a week and provides for flexible scheduling, but has less opportunity for advancement and lower pay.

What most people would really like is the flexible, 40-hour a week job with rapid advancement and high pay. Unfortunately, that's a bit like asking for an effective "eat more and excercise less" weight loss plan.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 9:38 AM

"When it comes right down to the nitty griddy, Women, who are mothers of children are more important than both men and childless women. This attitude will be reflected in any decent society."

> This blog has two authors -- a mother and a father and active contributors of both genders. Please don't dismiss the contributions of fathers and other male role models.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | November 9, 2006 9:41 AM

The comment that mom's are the most important people is correct in simple terms, but the odds that your or my child will be more important than the work Stephan Hawkins or the Honorable Dalai Lama or Nobel Prize winner Andrew Fire do is very very very slight. Most important to YOU but not more important to the world in general.

Posted by: to "mom most important" | November 9, 2006 9:42 AM

The more you eat the more calories you consume. Work hours don't translate in the same way. Working 60 hours does not mean that you are doing a better job than someone working 40 hours is.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | November 9, 2006 9:42 AM

"No, it's because the next generation that will carry on after us is more important legacy than anything you could possibly be doing in the work force."

So, a woman who chooses not to be a mother, but say, devotes her life to a worthy cause, like medicine, teaching, politics or some other worthy cause is less important because of her non-parent status? Even though she leaves a legacy for future generations through her work? That doesn't sound very balanced to me!

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 9:44 AM

Yeah, when my childless coworker arrived late because her elderly dog was ailing, I understood. When my older coworker took time off to care for her father-in-law, I understood. When my young secretary took time off for vacation to destress, I understood that, too. I'm the one with young kids and I end up arriving early and leaving late most often, but I understand that life is what you do with those you love and work is what you do to make that life possible.

Making work an enjoyable (okay, mayble tolerable for some) place that people "want" to go to everyday is a better idea that treating people like trained rats in a maze. We should understand that every now and then situations arise that require flexibility in the workplace and if employers give that flexibility, they get better employees!

Posted by: Mom of 2 | November 9, 2006 9:45 AM

" . . . but does more necessarily mean better? not always."

Sometimes quantity has a quality of its own. And in many cases the 457th burger you flip does taste just as good as the first one, and is just as valuable.

As an employer, if I need 3,000 hours of work done each year, I may have a choice between hiring one person to do it all (and pay for one health insurance premium, make one pension contribution, provide two desks and telephones, etc.) or hiring two people to do 1,500 hours each (and pay two health insurance premiums, make two pension contributions, provide two desks and telephones, etc.). The first ends up costing me less per hour, unless I pay the two people who're only willing to work 1,500 at a lower hourly rate. Of course, there is a limit to how much work one person can, or is willing, to do - but before that point is reached, there can be some very real economic advantages to hiring people who're willing to work more hours.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 9:45 AM

There are indeed people who can do 12 hours of work in 8 hours. There are also a lot of people who _think_ they can do 12 hours of work in 8 hours.

It's great to be in the first category- so productive that you can do whatever your job calls for (and maybe more) in minimal time. But don't be so sure you aren't really in the second category...

Posted by: randommom | November 9, 2006 9:45 AM

I wish telecommuting were a realistic option at most work-places.

Although there was a "pilot" program at my Federal Agency for a while, people were strongly discouraged from taking advantage of it. Supervisors would bring it up at a staff meeting and roll their eyes.

However, my best friend works at the EEOC and is actually REQUIRED to telecommute one day out of every two weeks. How about that? Granted, we have different types of jobs, but I still thought that was rather progressive.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 9:46 AM

To ncmom:

It is rare that rhe govt can solve any of your problems. They usually just create them. Mrs. Pelosi is a multi millionaire who doesn't care much about you no matter what she says. She possibly cares about the idea of you, but doesn't really want to fiz what's wrong- only wants youto think she's helping.

Let business alone and they will be better off. At least some employers DO allow for flexibility, but really, they own the job, you work for them.

Posted by: atlmom | November 9, 2006 9:49 AM

Mr.Reid is a writer, hence he has flexibility. Do realize that not everyone's job lends itself to flexibility as easily as yours. Perhaps the Bureau of Labor Statistics has done some research into how many jobs really are flexible. I dare say it is a minority.

Here on the line, we work fixed shifts. The line moves only because you do your part. There are production quotas to be met every hour, every day, every week. If you fail a quality check, you are docked. If someone takes time off for a sick child, who do you think picks up the slack? co-workers.

Flexibility is a nice concept. It works nicely for creative and engaging types, but for most of us middle class folks, it just 'aint gonna happen. BTW, my wife works at Target and flexibility is a totally foreign concept.
You're not there, you're not working.
No work, no pay. It's as straightforward as that.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | November 9, 2006 9:52 AM

"The more you eat the more calories you consume. Work hours don't translate in the same way. Working 60 hours does not mean that you are doing a better job than someone working 40 hours is."

This misses the point. Assuming that two people are equally conscientious and capable, and that they are in fact performing useful work while they are on the job, a person who works 60 hours gets more done than a person who works 40 hours. In a free labor market, the person who gets more done will be better paid than her peers. Granted, there are superachievers who can accomplish more in 30 hours than normal mortals can in 60 - they tend to be paid commensurately, and tend to work more than 30 hours anyway. There are also people who accomplish less in 60 hours than a trained monkey could do in 30 - they also tend, over the long term, to get what they deserve. But in general, jobs that with long or inflexible hours tend to be paid more than equivalent jobs with shorter or more flexible schedules. There's nothing inherently wrong with that - and some people find it a reasonable tradeoff to work insane hours in order to jump-start their careers and earnings.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 9:52 AM

And to close the loop - that's what the diet and excercise analogy was intended to highlight. Reality doesn't always give us what we want.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 9:53 AM

"So, a woman who chooses not to be a mother, but say, devotes her life to a worthy cause, like medicine, teaching, politics or some other worthy cause is less important because of her non-parent status? Even though she leaves a legacy for future generations through her work? That doesn't sound very balanced to me!"

Of course it's valuable. But at rock bottom, her legacy - whatever it may be - is irrelevant if there are not future generations to enjoy it. The horse that pulls the cart of her legacy, so to speak, are the moms that produce the next generation.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 9:56 AM

So, the govt. has no business telling private entities that they can't spill toxic waste into the water or that having a baby shouldn't get your fired? Gee, if your vision of goverment was true I guess businesses would be free to whatever they wanted. And I am sure that would be best everyone.....

Flexibility and compromise is necessary on BOTH sides. But for too long workers, white AND blue collar have been taking it on the chin.

Posted by: atlmom | November 9, 2006 9:58 AM

So, the govt. has no business telling private entities that they can't spill toxic waste into the water or that having a baby shouldn't get your fired? Gee, if your vision of goverment was true I guess businesses would be free to whatever they wanted. And I am sure that would be best everyone.....

Flexibility and compromise is necessary on BOTH sides. But for too long workers, white AND blue collar have been taking it on the chin.

Posted by: to atlmom | November 9, 2006 9:58 AM

So, women are only valuable if they are brood mares? Get out of the Dark Ages.

Posted by: 9:58 | November 9, 2006 9:59 AM

"If they want to keep said investment (and thus, maintain good productivity, retention), they'd make some accomodations."

Never forget that to 99% of the companies you work for, you are expendable. That's just a fact. Sure, companies can care about workers, make many changes to keep their "investment" happy, but eventually, you have to choose to be happy with working there or to move on because a company can't be expected to do everything possible to make every single worker completely happy. How many of you have ever actually run your own business and had employees?

Posted by: LT | November 9, 2006 10:01 AM

To Heather: Excellent point, and I wish I had the answer. The flip side, of course, is that parents (particularly moms) are generally harmed by the same set of assumptions. I guess then 64,000 question is whether there a way to create a corporate culture where anyone can feel free to say no to five months in Houston.

Posted by: Brian Reid | November 9, 2006 10:02 AM

Last time I looked, there were plenty of willing and able women having children. Not every women WANTS to or SHOULD have children. There are plenty of kids to carry on whatever legacy these women and men)decide to leave for them.

Posted by: Brood mares | November 9, 2006 10:02 AM

"But at rock bottom, her legacy - whatever it may be - is irrelevant if there are not future generations to enjoy it."

Well, we're now over the 300 million mark in this country alone--I don't foresee human extinction coming into play for quite some time yet...

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 10:04 AM

We have laws to protect our health- ie toxic waste spills. But if you want a co to succeed, then leave them alone unless absolutely necessary. The more restrictionS, the less productive and fewer pple are likely to start a new business. Or cos. Willmove overseas. If it is public safety, of course we need to be involved, but b c you want to spend more time w your kids is none of govts business. Just as your wages should be none of their business.
Please don't twist my words. It is not so becoming.

Posted by: atlmom | November 9, 2006 10:07 AM

"However, my best friend works at the EEOC and is actually REQUIRED to telecommute one day out of every two weeks. How about that? Granted, we have different types of jobs, but I still thought that was rather progressive."

How is being forced to telecommute progressive? I actually do not own a home computer and don't need one, even though I work as an editor. Why should I be made to invest in a home computer and cable line when I have an office to work in? I now make a six-figure salary and I have never had a job where I needed to take work home. If I did have something to complete after normal hours, I did it in my office. Sorry, not everyone wants or needs to "work from home" or dreams of setting up a home office.

Posted by: Maria | November 9, 2006 10:09 AM

atlmom - I have to disagree with you on that want - parents wanting to spend more time raising their kids should be the government's business. Just as an example - the local government's spend a lot of money on public schools - they have a vested interest in ensuring that parents can spend quality time with their children reinforcing what is learnt in school and raising them up to be responsible and well behaved.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | November 9, 2006 10:12 AM

fabworkingmom: "We are no longer in a manufacturing economy where more hours = more products."

We're not? I wonder where my husband is going every day, then?

I agree with your point when it's applied to office work. But there are plenty of people in our economy still working in manufacturing where more hours = more product. The way those companies grow is to increase productivity *and* keep their operating hours at the highest possible level.

Posted by: momof4 | November 9, 2006 10:14 AM

I love it when one side tells me that if I, personally, do not have a child, the fate of humanity will hang in the balance. Then the other side tells me that if I dare quit work to stay at home and raise that child myself, the fate of women's rights will hang in the balance. I'm glad to know that I'm that important!

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 10:14 AM

To the person who thinks women need to have children to leave a legacy:

For those of us who are smart enough to realize before it happens that we wouldn't make good mothers, what is your opinion of us? At least we're smart enough in advance to know that poverty, neglect, and abuse are horrible legacies to leave for a child.

Posted by: NAC | November 9, 2006 10:15 AM

Heather, did they pay for your apt in Houston? What about meals, airfare, rental car? Was there a daily allowance? How often did they pay to fly you back? Many childless folks would have jumped at the chance to go work in a new city and enjoy the new experiences. I did that many years ago and loved it. Besides, Houston is a big city with lots of different cultures and great ethnic cuisine!

Posted by: Koko | November 9, 2006 10:15 AM

To the person who thinks women need to have children to leave a legacy:

For those of us who are smart enough to realize before it happens that we wouldn't make good mothers, what is your opinion of us? At least we're smart enough in advance to know that poverty, neglect, and abuse are horrible legacies to leave for a child.

Posted by: NAC | November 9, 2006 10:16 AM

I love it when one side tells me that if I, personally, do not have a child, the fate of humanity will hang in the balance. Then the other side tells me that if I dare quit work to stay at home and raise that child myself, the fate of women's rights will hang in the balance. I'm glad to know that I'm that important!

Posted by: LindaG. | November 9, 2006 10:17 AM

To maria:

I don't know of a single co. That would requie you to use your own computer for work, I have had laptops from work. And all the things that go w them, including wires. I used to dial in to a network conn. But now have my own. Why so angry about someone else's work situation?

Posted by: atlmom | November 9, 2006 10:18 AM

momof4 - fair enough. I should have said we are no longer in a "predominantly" manufacturing economy. Of course there are still many manufacturing jobs but most jobs these days are in the services sector. Manufacturing jobs inherently have less potential for flexibility.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | November 9, 2006 10:18 AM

fabworkingmom: "We are no longer in a manufacturing economy where more hours = more products."

Tell that to the 600,000 members of the United Auto Workers. Then consult the Bureau of Labor Statistics to find out just how many % of workers are still in the manufacturing economy. You'd be surprised.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | November 9, 2006 10:19 AM

I'll give you the answer:
http://www.bls.gov/iag/manufacturing.htm

over 10million workers in manufacturing, comprising 11% of the workforce.

no flexibility for this group.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | November 9, 2006 10:22 AM

I think it's an issue of Maria seeing that for her, work is work and separate from home, whereas telecommuting combines the two as you work from home. It works for some, not for others.

I know for me telecommuting would drive me nuts since I actually like having my workplace be separate from my home, so that when I get home my time is completely mine and I don't owe anyone from work anything, as opposed to trying to get work done with the people I live with disrupting that, and I have my commute home to get rid of the stress of my job and become a reasonable semblance of myself again by the time I get home -- likewise I can gea rup for my day on the way in, rather than losing sleep over it because there's a work-issued laptop sitting in my living room.

Posted by: to atlmom | November 9, 2006 10:24 AM

OK, I think we hammered her fabworkingmom on that point enough now. ;o)

(sorry Father of 4 - winky face)

Posted by: momof4 | November 9, 2006 10:25 AM

Atlmom, you've got it exactly. I wasn't angry, I was just saying that I don't think it's necessarily progressive to actually "require" workers to telecommute. If I worked for that company, I would probably start looking for another job, although I'm sure many would enjoy the telecommute option -- it's just not for me. What I don't understand is, if you already have someone set up in an office onsite, why require telecommuting rather than just offer the option and give it total support? Maybe they think they are helping conserve oil/gas, lessen pollution, or something, but it just doesn't make sense/seem right to me.

Posted by: Maria | November 9, 2006 10:29 AM

Oh, I was confused by the change of direction until I just realized "TO Altmom" was defending me. Thanks!

Posted by: Maria | November 9, 2006 10:30 AM

It's mind boggling to me that more companies don't realize the value of offering people flexibility (and that includes the flexibility to work standard hours in the office if you want).

My husband has telecommuted full time for the past four years in a job not typically done from home (software product management/marketing). It wasn't meant to be that way-- company was going to open an office in CA, we moved there and then they changed their mind, but let him keep telecommuting. Turns out he is just the type of disciplined, productive person who can work well from home (not sure I could). My husband, by the way, is the master of making use of internet tools-- he gives web presentations, web casts, net meetings, etc. almost every other day and is very good at it. He proved himself well-- his bosses said, 'As far as we're concerned, you can work for us from anywhere in the world.'

Last spring his company got bought. After six+ months of telecommuting for the new company, my husband literally just won an award at the new company for being the most hardworking and productive member of his team (he worked like mad during the transition/sale time in particular-- even now, he easily works 50-55 highly focused hours a week and spends free time reading industry mags & books). But the company insists that we move to their HQ next spring.

Although he has a well established track record of productivity from home, the new company has started making him travel to HQ every single week (or alternatively to other meeting points) for no other reason than 'face time'. They say 'we need you at this meeting' and it turns out to be a 20 minute small meeting of minimal importance-- for which the company bought a round trip train/plane ticket and hotel room for my husband, not to mention the day-time hours spent traveling (which clearly cuts into his normal productivity). His bosses said he needs to be there once a week regardless of whether there is a need. The company culture is such that they simply don't believe in/support telecommuting-- and they are throwing money down the drain to pay for unnecessary travel expenses, not to mention damaging my husband's morale (I'm six months pregnant-- neither he nor I want any more nights apart than necessary) with all the b.s. travel. It's so frustrating. We probably will move close to HQ next spring (after baby comes) and then at least he can leave work at work (in theory) but meanwhile I find it odd that this company is wasting money on something that actually *decreases* my husband's productivity. But even theoretically profit-maximizing firms don't always do what's logical.

Posted by: JKR | November 9, 2006 10:30 AM

And I also should have said: they are just as inflexible, if they are requiring one to WFH.

My husband's co. Is very flexible since they are a telecom co., and usually encourage those who want to to work from home - but they do not require it.

Posted by: atlmom | November 9, 2006 10:31 AM

"Just as an example - the local government's spend a lot of money on public schools - they have a vested interest in ensuring that parents can spend quality time with their children reinforcing what is learnt in school and raising them up to be responsible and well behaved."

Learnt??? Hopefully the children are learning better spelling and grammar in school!

Posted by: Hold up | November 9, 2006 10:35 AM

"Just as an example - the local government's spend a lot of money on public schools - they have a vested interest in ensuring that parents can spend quality time with their children reinforcing what is learnt in school and raising them up to be responsible and well behaved"

This sounds an awfully lot like government regulation of parenting. Do you really want the government sticking their nose into your private affairs - once they start regulating making sure we have time to spend with our children, they'll start regulating making sure that we all help with homework, go to conferences, feed children the "right" things, turn off the TV, volunteer in the schools, blahblahblah. Not that all of those things aren't "good" - but do you really want the government telling you that you have to do them to their standards?

Posted by: momof4 | November 9, 2006 10:40 AM

Re: "learnt"... it's funny, in Britain they use that form (learnt vs. learned). I've definitely heard it spoken a ton (by well educated, well spoken Brits) and seen it written in newspapers. Obviously, in the US this is incorrect, but can someone tell me if 'learnt' is truly the proper past tense of the verb 'learn' in Britain?

By the way, can we all agree to ignore the thread started by this morning's troll post "When it comes right down to the nitty griddy..." This obviously was posted to inflame (and I think some of the responses might actually be by the same poster)-- plz. just ignore it.

Posted by: JKR | November 9, 2006 10:44 AM

Hold up please get over yourself - "learnt" is gramtically correct. From dictionary.com:
learn verb, learned or learnt, learn‧ing.

It really irritates me when people attack spelling or grammar instead of addressing the point being made.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | November 9, 2006 10:48 AM

I meant "grammatically" correct - sorry grammar police!

Posted by: fabworkingmom | November 9, 2006 10:49 AM

You're welcome. :)

Posted by: To Maria, formerly known as To altmom | November 9, 2006 10:52 AM

JKR, at first I thought learnt was a British term which would make sense since I was brought up in a country that is a former British colony but I checked and it seems it's correct in American English as well.
"American Heritage Dictionary - learnt (lûrnt) Pronunciation Key
v. A past tense and a past participle of learn."

Posted by: fabworkingmom | November 9, 2006 10:54 AM

First, we have to conclude that we choose to work where we work. I work for a company that can be flexible for some employees but other employees, who function daily as a team, have to be there everyday for the team to be successful. It isn't for everyone -- it's a job for hardworking people who understand that providing for there family is an important way of supporting a family. And we pay a salary that our employees can, if they choose, have their spouses stay home with the children. But it means long hours in hot conditions, only really making money when the results are there. The thing is, our folks love it. We love coming to work everyday because of the opportunity we all have working together to be successful. It is rare and amazing at the same time.

Not every company is like this. But more companies can be. At the same time, not every person is like this. In my case, my fiance is very opposed to being a stay at home mom. Though she could eventually stay home on my salary alone, she would rather be in the work force. It's her choice and I respect it, but it will make raising children harder, and she knows this.

And that's the greater point. We're not victims of corporate demands. We have choices and we must priortize. It may mean making less money and having less stuff. But at the end of the day only we can decide what is important.

Posted by: Tom | November 9, 2006 11:02 AM

"So, women are only valuable if they are brood mares? Get out of the Dark Ages."

No one has said that. What they have said is that raising a responsible, productive member of the next generation is more important than just about anything the typical employer might be willing to pay you to do (e.g., make a widget, write a financial report, lobby a Congressman, clean a building, cook a meal, audit a corporation, draft a contract, pursue a lawsuit, design a building, landscape a lawn, drive a truck, pilot a plane, supervise an office, . . . ).

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 11:07 AM

To Mr. Honda -- Thanks for bringing the manufacturing element into this, and I think you're underscoring the deeper point: a lack of flexibility, be it on the line or in Target, does not make for happy employees. I would guess that the solutions for manufacturing have to be a lot more creative than for folks in my line of work, but I find it hard to believe that no solutions would work.

How about 10-hour days and three days off a week? What about staggered shifts (a 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift and an 11 a.m. to 7 a.m. shifts)? Obviously, the bigger the manufacturer and the more set the processes are, the harder and more expensive it is to try to solve these problems. Still, wouldn't it be great if someone was really interested in ensuring workers were happy and productive?

Posted by: Brian Reid | November 9, 2006 11:13 AM

"Well, we're now over the 300 million mark in this country alone--I don't foresee human extinction coming into play for quite some time yet...
"

Granted - many women (and men) want to be parents, and put in the time and commitment to make it work. Not everone wants to be a parent, can be a parent, or even should be a parent. But parenting is essential to the survival of the human race, nations, and cultures. This makes it pretty @#!$% important! Important enough to make the term "brood mare" that's being slung around even more offensive than it might otherwise be. (And while humans are in no danger of going extinct, there are a number of developed countries with birth rates well below the replacement rate, where cultural extinction is a very real possibility - I would suggest that the view of motherhood inherent in the term "brood mare" is at least part of the cause.)

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 11:13 AM

1 Energizer Bunny arrested -charged with battery.

Posted by: Jokester | November 9, 2006 11:13 AM

once again i'll state the point that the product you produce after you've worked for 60 hours is not necessarily a better quality product. people are not like machines. they suffer from fatigue either mental or physical and working overtime like that brings on fatigue.

Posted by: quark | November 9, 2006 11:15 AM

"And while humans are in no danger of going extinct, there are a number of developed countries with birth rates well below the replacement rate, where cultural extinction is a very real possibility"

Would having less people around really be such a bad thing in the coming years? Would be better for the environment for one thing!

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 11:19 AM

"For those of us who are smart enough to realize before it happens that we wouldn't make good mothers, what is your opinion of us? At least we're smart enough in advance to know that poverty, neglect, and abuse are horrible legacies to leave for a child."

We think you're both honest and wise. I suspect you're also contributing to society. I just think that as our civilization has become more complex, we've sometimes lost sight of what's crucial to survival, and what's not. So, for instance, farming is in the end more necessary than entertainment - even though actors make much more than farmers. We don't all have to be farmers, and we don't all have to be parents. But in the end, we'd all die without the farmers, and we would have no one to whom we could pass on a legacy with the parents.

(And to address an implied rebutal from some of the prior comments - yes, we could have too many parents. Just as you can have overproduction of food, which has some adverse consequences, you can have a population growth rate that's too high. Recognizing this doesn't make food - or children - any less important.)

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 11:20 AM

>

This is an excellent point. The well-behaved and well-educated children of today are the taxpayers, and social-security funders of tomorrow. Everyone eventually loses if children are shortchanged.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 11:21 AM

What a riveting discussion. Sorry but I must go feed my macaca now

Posted by: ElQuesoGrande | November 9, 2006 11:23 AM

"once again i'll state the point that the product you produce after you've worked for 60 hours is not necessarily a better quality product. people are not like machines. they suffer from fatigue either mental or physical and working overtime like that brings on fatigue."

Of course we get tired. But it's also simplistic to assume that the product (or report, or presentation, or ad concept, or whatever) that you produce during the 39th hour you work in a week is high quality, creative and valuable, but the product you produce during the 42nd hour you work in the week is a complete piece of #$&@%*!^. There is a point of diminishing returns - but that doesn't mean that there are no returns from working more than a "standard" 40 hour week.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 11:25 AM

I have to agree that parenthood (and I say parenthood because no child can be born without the contribution of a both a sperm and egg) is probably the single most important contribution that can be made to society. I know a lot of people are offended by that. Yes, there are a lot of other important things people can do with their lives. And no, not everyone wants to or should be a parent. And no, we are not facing extinction yet. But face it. If there were no next generation, none of the other contributions to the world that people make would matter. People's contributions to society are only signification if there are other people to reap the benefits of those contributions. Otherwise, what's the point? And parents are the ones who provide those other people.

Posted by: Emily | November 9, 2006 11:30 AM

I'll concede that IF you are a parent, you should consider that role your most important "job." However, we need EVERYONE in society to do their best at whatever job(s) they CHOOSE to undertake - your job as a parent is not more "important" than my job as a marketing manager for a tech company - it's simply a different way of contributing to society, which is what we're ALL expected to do in a market-based economy.

Posted by: single & childless | November 9, 2006 11:30 AM

"How about 10-hour days and three days off a week? What about staggered shifts (a 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift and an 11 a.m. to 7 a.m. shifts)? Obviously, the bigger the manufacturer and the more set the processes are, the harder and more expensive it is to try to solve these problems. Still, wouldn't it be great if someone was really interested in ensuring workers were happy and productive?"

The manufacturing company I worked for had the 50 hour work week (each worker working 4-10 hour shifts, the plant runs 50 hours) figured out many years ago. But it's interesting you should mention it in conjunction with making workers happy and productive, because what it really was just a way to have more production hours with less overtime. It was done for the company, not the employees. Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with that.

I'm not sure how staggered shifts would work in most manufacturing environments where there is one line?

Posted by: momof4 | November 9, 2006 11:32 AM

"Would having less people around really be such a bad thing in the coming years? Would be better for the environment for one thing!"

Perhaps not. Setting an "ideal" population level is not easy - even in concept. Even moderately rapid population decline can be a very, very big problem - the U.S. still has a modestly rising population, but we're already facing a real bind paying for Social Security and Medicare. Europe and Japan are in even worse trouble.

Beyond that - what's good for the environment is important. But I'm human - what's good for people is even more important to me. In general, preserving a healthy environment is also good for people. But I can't buy into the idea that we need to dramatically limit human aspirations in order to protect nature.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 11:32 AM

Please have more kids.
Need them to pay my social security.

Posted by: MoreKids | November 9, 2006 11:33 AM

your job as a parent is not more "important" than my job as a marketing manager for a tech company

Are you kidding me? Of course a job as a parent is more important than that of a marketing manager. Come on. Being a marketing manager is a job, not a life. Most people do not define themselves by their job. A parent's contribution to society is far more important than marketing some product or company.

Which is not to say that your life as a whole is not very important. But the minute you limit your value to that of your job, or equate your worth with your job, you diminish your value as a whole person.

Posted by: Emily | November 9, 2006 11:36 AM

"Beyond that - what's good for the environment is important. But I'm human - what's good for people is even more important to me."

But, um, having a good environment to live in IS good for people and their quality of life. Not sure how you can argue that having an ever increasing population with limited resources is good for anything but a lower quality of life.

Posted by: tree hugger | November 9, 2006 11:38 AM

"I'll concede that IF you are a parent, you should consider that role your most important "job." However, we need EVERYONE in society to do their best at whatever job(s) they CHOOSE to undertake - your job as a parent is not more "important" than my job as a marketing manager for a tech company - it's simply a different way of contributing to society, which is what we're ALL expected to do in a market-based economy."

Every human on the planet has intrinsic worth and value. Every contribution to society is important. But let's not all sing kum-bay-ya and declare that all children in our Lake Woebegone are equally above average. Some contributions to society are more significant than others, and some jobs are more important than others.

Some provide the basic necessities of life; others protect life and health; others maintain civil order. Some write advertising jingles and rap lyrics. Yeah - it's all valuable, and free markets place prices on it. But the audit report I should be working on right now is simply not as important as a child (or a sanitation system, for that matter). That's fine - it's what I have chosen to do, and I'm paid very well for it. But we're fools if we've become so PC that we can't make distinctions between jobs (and fools if we can no longer tell what's truly important in life - hint, it has more to do with how many people show up at your funeral than with how much you're paid).

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 11:41 AM

"Of course it's valuable. But at rock bottom, her legacy - whatever it may be - is irrelevant if there are not future generations to enjoy it. The horse that pulls the cart of her legacy, so to speak, are the moms that produce the next generation."

Oh, this is rich! Let's crank up the human-making machine or we will run out of legacy!!

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 11:42 AM

I am always amazed at workaholics. Do they think that they get a do over in life? Why in this day and age would anyone willingly forgo family for a company that will cut your whole division so it's CEO can make another 10 million on his options. Time is the most important compensation these days.

Posted by: pATRICK | November 9, 2006 11:43 AM

I couldn't agree more--I am SO glad, Brian, you are jumping on board the it's an "everyone" issue bandwagon, and away from the "daddy wars" mythology. It's a subject I feel passionately about and blog about (www.worklifefit.com/blog)almost every week. I look forward to working with you and other like-minded people to take this debate to where it should be: creating a new 21st Century strategy for managing the many work+life fit transitions we will all experience throughout our lives and careers. It's a partnership based strategy where we work with our employers to create mutually-beneficial solutions. How do I know this? I've been creating work+life flexibility strategies for companies and individuals for over a decade--It works. I know it. Know we just need to get everyone on the same page. The first step is acknowledging that fact.

Posted by: Cali Williams Yost www.worklifefit.com/blog | November 9, 2006 11:43 AM

"But, um, having a good environment to live in IS good for people and their quality of life. Not sure how you can argue that having an ever increasing population with limited resources is good for anything but a lower quality of life."

I never argued that an ever increasing population with limited resources is good. I did say that there are problems associated with a DECLINING population, and that I'm not willing to support a smaller human population on the basis that it would be better for the environment. Now, if you could convince me that:

1) A somewhat smaller population would be better for PEOPLE; and

2) That we could reach the desired level gradually, in a way that was not coercive or unjust, and did not cause any serious social or political problems . . .

. . . then I'd be willing to talk. Right now, I'd suggest that a better goal would be to get both the developed and developing worlds to a steady-state replacement level in a way that is both economically and politically viable and sustainable.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 11:47 AM

of course, fatigue isn't quite as simple as one minute you're fine & the next that you're tired. manufacturing could be more flexible. instead of lines how about teams that put together a product? i think volvo uses the team process. maybe it's saab. not sure. that still requires that a person be there but a simple assembly line is not the only way something can be manufactured. this requires thinking outside the box and change. not something that industry does with any ease.

Posted by: quark | November 9, 2006 11:47 AM

"manufacturing could be more flexible."

Probably.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 11:50 AM

All of the "having children is the most worthwhile job in the world" seem to think all their children will grow up to be the next Einstein, or Lincoln, or Gandhi...remember, Osama Bin Ladin, Hitler, Idi Amin, etc, etc, all had mothers....

Posted by: ummm... | November 9, 2006 11:55 AM

People who complain about over population always change their tune if it was someone near and dear to them. That "population" is my mom, your dad, his child, her sister. PEOPLE!

Posted by: pATRICK | November 9, 2006 11:56 AM

"...remember, Osama Bin Ladin, Hitler, Idi Amin, etc, etc, all had mothers...."

That's one of the reasons it's such an important job - just look what happens when it's well and truly botched!

;-)

Posted by: ummm... hmmmm ... | November 9, 2006 11:59 AM

"Would having less people around really be such a bad thing in the coming years? Would be better for the environment for one thing!"

--- Well, it would be devastating to those who look to government programs (and the taxpayers who fund them) to solve society's problems. Fewer taxpayers means fewer tax dollars and exhorbitantly higher taxes for those around to pay them.

It would also, as someone else mentioned, be devastating to western culture -- western Europeans are already a dying breed and with them goes their way of life, their freedoms, their history. I'm not saying everything "western" is perfect or should be preserved, but I am saying we're all in big trouble if western thought dies out altogether. Talk about going back to the Dark Ages.

As for the environment -- we're smart enough to figure out a way to exist in this world without destroying the environment. We simply lack the political will -- on the left and right -- to use common sense in our approach to the problem. No one wants to give up the environmnent as an issue enough to take care of the problem.

Posted by: georgia | November 9, 2006 12:03 PM

"Would having less people around really be such a bad thing in the coming years? Would be better for the environment for one thing!"

--- Well, it would be devastating to those who look to government programs (and the taxpayers who fund them) to solve society's problems. Fewer taxpayers means fewer tax dollars and exhorbitantly higher taxes for those around to pay them.

It would also, as someone else mentioned, be devastating to western culture -- western Europeans are already a dying breed and with them goes their way of life, their freedoms, their history. I'm not saying everything "western" is perfect or should be preserved, but I am saying we're all in big trouble if western thought dies out altogether. Talk about going back to the Dark Ages.

As for the environment -- we're smart enough to figure out a way to exist in this world without destroying the environment. We simply lack the political will -- on the left and right -- to use common sense in our approach to the problem. No one wants to give up the environmnent as an issue enough to take care of the problem.

Posted by: georgia | November 9, 2006 12:05 PM

Reproducing doesn't guarantee that you contribute to a better future. Take, for example, Hitler's mom...

Posted by: childfree and equal | November 9, 2006 12:08 PM

I think flexibility will become more and more common. We have flex schedules and telework at my job because it's the federal govt., but there are a lot of different reasons for it (can you imagine if every government worker in DC--or any other major metropolis--at the same hour---talk about gridlock).

Has anyone actually been a part of creating or demanding a more flexible work environment? And if so, what types of strategies did you use that were effective?

(Unrelated tangential thought swimming in my head: Often when I read this blog, it makes me think of a quote from the most recent Dr. Seuss book my son and I have been reading:
"From there to here,
from here to here,
funny [people]
are everywhere.")

Posted by: marc (friend to brood mares and non-brood mares everywhere) | November 9, 2006 12:10 PM

Cali - good to "see" (read) you on the blog. I got your work+life fit book a few weeks ago and I must say it is really good and has helped me to reorient my thinking about work/life issues.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | November 9, 2006 12:12 PM

marc, I dare not even suggest much less demand flexibility from my employer when the jobs of everyone in my dept hang by a thread. company is investing in India and we are all waiting for the pink slips to arrive.

Posted by: Offshored | November 9, 2006 12:13 PM

Offshored: Sounds like your efforts would be better spent finding something more secure if that is a possibility. I hope it is! I think employees have to present a unified front and organize to gain lasting increases in flexibility or change company policy, but there's no room for that if your employer is willing to outsource or downsize.

Posted by: marc | November 9, 2006 12:19 PM

marc, "I think employees have to present a unified front and organize to gain lasting increases in flexibility or change company policy"

that's what a union does. organized labor.
UAW has done a lot of good for the auto workers, but sometimes one has to wonder at what price. look at GM's and Ford's cost structure today.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | November 9, 2006 12:28 PM

That's why I voted for dems this time. Maybe they will pass legislation protecting US workers.

Posted by: Offshored | November 9, 2006 12:30 PM

Mr. Honda:
And unfortunately unions have lost a lot of power in this country. Agreed, that unions usually create costs for businesses, but that's the catch-22 we discussed a few blogs back isn't it?

Do we want higher taxes, more government intervention, and more socialist policies... or do we want more individual freedom, less government, and capitalism (where the cash flows like water and will always follow the path of least resistance--i.e., seek out the cheapest materials and labor costs it can while still maximizing profit).

I'm not arguing for socialism here, I'm just acknowledging that the game we like to play is set up to be pretty unfair for some folks (again, I think this is where government has a role to play in supporting American business and American workers).

Posted by: marc | November 9, 2006 12:39 PM

One can say that its because of all these "worker protections" that GM and Ford's cost structure is so high. Extend that further - if the US govt provided some worker protections, it's going to cost more. Where's the govt going to get the money? From you.

marc, I believe we agreed to disagree last time. I'm more of a libertarian, so let's just leave it as that. You can have the last word.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | November 9, 2006 12:47 PM

There is a role for geography in this discussion too. For those of you in the DC area, and other large metropolitan areas, there seems to be much more pressure for long hours on top of long commutes. As an associate in a large law firm with 6 locations, I felt that pressure too. Then we moved out to the wild West where it's the land of manana and the pace of life is very different. The largest law firm here has roughly 80 attorneys, and a "long" week here is a short week in most places. There's a focus on family, recognition of the value of weekends and time for recreation (and great weather for year round sports). The work culture isn't perfect and there's increasing discontent with the habit of providing parents with more flexibility than non-parents, but folks have become more vocal about wanting increased balance. There's a tendency for parents to speak up in support of a co-worker who seeks flexible hours to volunteer or pursue a personal activity.

I left litigation to join corporate life with a standard 40 hour week, albeit with flexible hours. The company is small (about 130 employees) but it is family friendly and very good about allowing employees time to pursue other aspects of life besides work. We're closing the entire office tomorrow. Much more balance than I ever found litigating. I think it's a coming "trend" and as more employees seek flexibility and remain productive, I believe things will change. And I see both parents and non-parents uniting to encourage employers to provide that flexibility.

Posted by: Stacey | November 9, 2006 12:48 PM

Heather, did they pay for your apt in Houston? What about meals, airfare, rental car? Was there a daily allowance? How often did they pay to fly you back? Many childless folks would have jumped at the chance to go work in a new city and enjoy the new experiences. I did that many years ago and loved it. Besides, Houston is a big city with lots of different cultures and great ethnic cuisine!

my company required me to relocate to Charlotte NC for 9 months. They gave me a flat $1000, total, to spend on an apt, meals,whatever. They did not 'fly me back,' pay for a rental car (I drove my own down) or pickup anything extra. Basically it was maintaining two households, the one here and the one there. Relocation like this is not an extended vacation or adventure,it's work no matter what the 'cuisine.' And if I had not wanted to go? I would have been out of a job. Companies are not supportive, flexible,all these fantasy terms we all wish for. Bottom line, they want to make money, if an employee is not happy, fine, they can hire another, it's that simple

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 12:53 PM

Heather, did they pay for your apt in Houston? What about meals, airfare, rental car? Was there a daily allowance? How often did they pay to fly you back? Many childless folks would have jumped at the chance to go work in a new city and enjoy the new experiences. I did that many years ago and loved it. Besides, Houston is a big city with lots of different cultures and great ethnic cuisine!

my company required me to relocate to Charlotte NC for 9 months. They gave me a flat $1000, total, to spend on an apt, meals,whatever. They did not 'fly me back,' pay for a rental car (I drove my own down) or pickup anything extra. Basically it was maintaining two households, the one here and the one there. Relocation like this is not an extended vacation or adventure,it's work no matter what the 'cuisine.' And if I had not wanted to go? I would have been out of a job. Companies are not supportive, flexible,all these fantasy terms we all wish for. Bottom line, they want to make money, if an employee is not happy, fine, they can hire another, it's that simple

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 12:53 PM

Stacy - generally speaking, you are correct. I am in the DC area and "only" work a 50 hour week. I used to have a terrible commute (over the Wilson Bridge - blech) but did decide to move nearer work - definitely more expensive, but in opinion, worth every penny.

Posted by: Missicat | November 9, 2006 12:54 PM

"Jokester", how much will it cost us to make you go away?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 12:58 PM

Great topic and post today, Brian! Couldn't agree more...and in the midst of frequently much pessimism on teh balance topic, it is somtimes hard to see that progress is being made.

Heather, if you do come to Houston, try to make it to the Clear Lake area, where Johnson Space Center is locaated. It's nice down here, and much unlike the downtown portions of Houston (unless that is your cup of tea). I hope you also get a chance to see the rest of Texas. Houston is in fact the least representative part of our great state, unfortuately. There's very little of central Texas that isn't pretty special, for example.

I hope despite your hardships you find something positive to take away from the expereince. I lot of people come to Texas thinking they will hate it, and never leave. (You've now been warned... :~)

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | November 9, 2006 1:05 PM

Hmmm...having just posted it, I realize you could misinterpret that one line.

By "never leave" I meant people decide to stay. :~)

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | November 9, 2006 1:09 PM

"I know plenty of people who can stretch 8 hours of work into 12 hours, and I know those who can do 12 hours of work in 8."

We can all name (particularly salaried executive or management) colleagues who fall within the first group. They work to the hours and waste time chatting in the halls. They put in about 4 hours a day unless there's a departmental crisis or someone on their team is out on maternity leave or vacation.

When it comes to the second category, however, What we generally mean when is that, what it takes Fred to do in 12 hours, I -- with my supreme efficiency -- can do in 8. Kudos to you if this represents your thinking and if it's actually true.

However, if Fred operating at his most efficient manner needs 12 hours to do his best work, Fred cannot, be definition, produce the same-quality work in 8 hours.
Either the twelve-hour project could have been completed in a more efficient manner, and then I wouldn't characterize it as "a twelve-hour project" or the 8-hour project shows the results of short-cuts, failure to proofread and is error-filled. Everyone on the team knows, if you want something done right, don't give it to needed-to-spend-12-hours-but-only-spent-8-hours Fred. This means the highest pressure projects go to someone other than Fred, further ratcheting up the pressure on the rest of Fred's team.

Work in the most efficient manner, and spend the least amount of time, on each project that will still result in a high quality product that accomplishes the project's goals. The rest of your colleagues get a little tired of correcting your typos and fixing the parts of the project you forgot to address. If my carpenter only wants to spend 8 hours building my deck, when it'll take 12 to slow down and do it to spec, I sure hope he'll spend the time it takes to do it to spec.

I second randommom's comment that I wish people would be honest with themselves about what they want in a job. some of us don't have a choice about what jobs we can take. but if you have the luxury of choosing between careers and/or jobs, please do the rest of us a favor and pick a career and/or a job that matches the demands you are willing to place on yourself rather than taking on a demanding job and then not doing at the level required. It makes it harder on everyone else on the team because, eventually, internal and external clients catch on and the high-urgency work goes to the employees who have the work ethic to do it right.

There's nothing wrong with either choosing more reasonable jobs and careers or otherwise opting out of high-pressured, high-hours, relentless demanding jobs. There's alot wrong with selecting jobs everyone knows are like that, then either complaining about how unreasonable the demands are, or Just. Not. Doing. Your. Job.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 1:10 PM

Mr. Honda:

I'm not interested in rehashing the old argument either. But I am interested in where you see as the balance between profit and employee well-being. It sounds to me like you have enjoyed the things the union has achieved for the workers, but at the same time, the union has contributed to the industry's downsizing and outsourcing.

Telework and flextime work pretty well for a lot of desk jobs, but I think it was you that put out the 11% statistic on how many workers are in manufacturing. Cutting pay and benefits alone will still not make many of our industries competitive. It doesn't seem like a good policy to let our industries bleed 11% of our workers dry until they're forced to close up shop or move overseas.

Brian's whole point was that we're in this all together and while now doesn't seem like the right time for manufacturing workers to be asking for more benefits, it also doesn't seem like a time to just sit by and watch them get squeezed out of jobs completely.

Work-life balance/fit shouldn't only be for writers, desk-jockeys, or the rich. But that's where we're at according to everything I read on this blog.

Posted by: marc | November 9, 2006 1:10 PM

'have to agree that parenthood (and I say parenthood because no child can be born without the contribution of a both a sperm and egg) is probably the single most important contribution that can be made to society.'

Parenthood is only a great contribution if it is done well.

How people spend their time is only their own business. People - it is all about choices - yours are not mine and mine are not yours and no one should think that their own are the only valid ones. The sooner we all realize this the better off we all will be. If people want to work a lot, let them have their own regrets, or perhaps they won't, but it is their own choice to do so.
I would love a job that would allow me to telecommute (don't work, don't have kids, long story). I would do it in a heartbeat. I wish my husband could - so does he. Can't imagine someone not wanting to, but that is their own choice. The sooner that managers and companies allow for more flexibility, in hours and in telecommuting, the better off we will all be, including the company.
The last job I had was the best - I worked for the most amazing people. They understood that getting a new driver's license take a while. They were very very good to us and in return, the day that I had to go to the doctor at lunch to get a shot to get rid of my migraine, I turned around and went back to work. She was surprised to see me back - I couldn't imagine not being as good to her as she was to me.

Posted by: star11 | November 9, 2006 1:12 PM

"No, it's because the next generation that will carry on after us is more important legacy than anything you could possibly be doing in the work force."

to anon at 9:34: If that mom taking care of the next generation doesn't have a hunter/gatherer or two around protecting the homefront as well as providing food, little legacy is not going to carry on after us. He's either going to starve, be eaten by predators, or die of exposure to the weather. spare us the platitudes about the next generation. The soldiers and the workers, regardless of whether they are childless, make it possible for the next generation to carry on after us.

and what if what someone does in the workforce is protect battered women? run a homeless shelter? I for one am glad we have police officers, soldiers, firemen, and nuns doing things in the workforce that probably matter more in the long run than the existence of 5 more children on my block -- love them as we in the neighborhood do and will.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 1:25 PM

to anonymous @ 1:25pm:
I think we can agree that we're dependent on one another, no? We need single and childless workers for productivity and overtime, parents to breed and supply little future consumers who will pitch in for social security (and inherit our wonderous contributions to society), and an odd assortment of roleplayers who provide food, protection, materials for shelter, and entertainment.

Posted by: marc | November 9, 2006 1:45 PM

certainly - I get more than a bit tired of assertions that motherhood is either the only, or the most, valuable contribution to society. These sorts of value judgments are not constructive -- not 'cause they are not PC, but because they are untrue. I'm damn glad I'm a mom, but I'm also glad that we have childless folks making the world a better place in their own way.

Posted by: to marc | November 9, 2006 1:51 PM

Darn you, rebeldad, for having such great ideas! What are the nasties on this board supposed to do with a guy who writes such thoughtful, well-put ideas that we can all agree on? ;-)

Posted by: gidget | November 9, 2006 1:58 PM

"Heather, did they pay for your apt in Houston? What about meals, airfare, rental car? Was there a daily allowance? How often did they pay to fly you back? Many childless folks would have jumped at the chance to go work in a new city and enjoy the new experiences. I did that many years ago and loved it. Besides, Houston is a big city with lots of different cultures and great ethnic cuisine!"

yeah, yeah, yeah. that's all great, but even when I was childless I didn't want to leave my friends, hobbies, church, gym, and, frankly, lifestyle for 6 months. Two weeks is a chance to see a new city. 6 months leaves a gaping hole in your life.

btw, as Mr.Honda has pointed out quite nicely, all work can't be done when some worker most wants to do it. when I was in retail, no one wanted to work holiday hours. Not enough people wanted to work Saturday night or Sunday (any time). Guess what? the store still needed to be open and we still needed to staff those shifts. If you are a server in a restaurant, if you are going to make any money at all, you need to work weekend evening shifts. In the white collar world, alot of people don't understand the inconvenience to everyone else whether inside or outside your department, or outside your company/employer when they can't conference you in to resolve an issue. You need to be available to your colleagues when they need to reach you, and if technology can solve that -- great. sometimes, however, a face to face meeting that doesn't take 2 days to set up via e-mail and voice mail, is the only way to close a deal. if your colleagues are suggesting to you that your schedule makes you hard to work with on team projects, please hear that message and tweak the schedule.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 1:59 PM

Flexibility would be great for everyone but I agree with Heather - the issue isn't whether we work a standard week in different time slots but whether we get breaks from regular work and people with kids just plain get more breaks. I am sure many people in flexible office environments make up time in various ways but it's on their conscience rather than required - if you "have to" leave work early for the school play it's "we're family friendly." If you have to leave for rollerblading in the park, you're lazy.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 2:05 PM

"certainly - I get more than a bit tired of assertions that motherhood is either the only, or the most, valuable contribution to society. These sorts of value judgments are not constructive -- not 'cause they are not PC, but because they are untrue. I'm damn glad I'm a mom, but I'm also glad that we have childless folks making the world a better place in their own way."

Read the prior comments carefully. No one said that motherhood is the only valuable contribution to society. I have argued that it is absolutely necessary if our society is to have a future - and necessary in a way that few, if any, other endeavors are. No one has said that mothers are independent of society, or could somehow exist on their own doing nothing but "mothering." I have argued that there are certain activities that are, from a survival standpoint, indispensable in a way that most of our jobs are not. Producing food would be one - motherhood is another, if we extend the concept of "survival" across more than one generation. My job is not one essential to the survival of either or species or our current society. I still love it, and it still pays well. But when we dig down to the bone, if our society had to jettison some things, most of our jobs would be at the top of the list - producing food and children would be at the bottom of the list (if they wouldn't, then we're too dumb to survive).

One acid test of what's most valuable to you is to see what you would be least willing to give up when disaster strikes.

Posted by: to to marc | November 9, 2006 2:07 PM

Gidget, you're right, thank goodness for Leslie and her inflammatory statements. I believe she gets paid by the post. (Hey, I think I made a pun there, though not as funny as any of "Jokester"'s. He's just nutty.)

Posted by: spunky | November 9, 2006 2:08 PM

Veterans day is Nov.11
These are the folks who did not complain when "sent to another city to work for 6 months".
Regardless of your feelings towards the current war in Iraq, do remember the men and women who proudly serve under the flag of the United States of America.

Posted by: Vet | November 9, 2006 2:11 PM

Brian,

You make an excellent point. Why don't companies shift toward universal PTO policies that reflect modern living situations and give parents and non-parents, single people, married people, separated people, domesticated people, (and everyone in between) the time off during the traditional workday hours the we need to have a fulfilling life so that we can be a happier more productive work force.

It is refreshing to see this discussion happen. A vast majority of the articles on this blog revolve around motherhood, even though this is supposed to be a "Work-LIFE" balance blog as opposed to a blog about how working mothers are victimized by society. While the struggle of working mothers is certainly one very important part of the entire picture, it is only one piece of the pie (that receives a disproportionate amount of attention by the author of this blog).

While some larger companies are taking steps to eliminate the disparity in leave policies, most public and private sector employers do not have such policies. It should be a priority of management to institute these changes.

Posted by: DC Atty | November 9, 2006 2:12 PM

"It should be a priority of management to institute these changes."

Why? Because it would be nice for workers is not a sufficient reason. If company management is convinced that it will improve the competitive position and profitability of the organization, then they'll do it. If not, then they won't. It's really that simple. We may think it will help companies do better, but for a corporation to change, they're likely going to require some pretty solid evidence. (Actually, I believe it makes sense for many firms, where the nature of the work allows for some flexibility - such as most business offices. It may not make sense for others which are time critical - flexible scheduling may not work as well for fire fighters or emergency room personnel, for example).

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 2:22 PM

"Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?"

Dang - is that why there's drool on my chin?


Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 2:28 PM

no argument with your idea, rebeldad, I wish the senior management of my gov't agency, which has a flex time/telework policy ON PAPER, read this. The three most powerful words in this policy are "subject to management's approval"

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 2:29 PM

Here are three more powerful words: learn how to count.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 2:34 PM

Rebeldad is so nice it is boring. I much prefer Leslie because she has a talent for creating controversy and division, whipping up the masses with inflammatory statements. It's what keeps me coming back for more.

Posted by: Koko | November 9, 2006 2:35 PM

Far be it from me to defend Hitler's mom- how weird is that to write. I read the real problem was his drunken, child abusing father that beat him regularly and emotionally abusd his mother whom he loved. I sure case for impotent rage in a young man.

Posted by: pATRICK | November 9, 2006 2:40 PM

Could whoever at WP.com is charged with running this blog please look up the IP address for "Jokester" and block it? These comments don't have anything to do with the discussion and do not fit within the "Post a Comment" parameters.

Thank you.

Posted by: to the mods | November 9, 2006 2:45 PM

"Could whoever at WP.com is charged with running this blog please look up the IP address for "Jokester" and block it? These comments don't have anything to do with the discussion and do not fit within the "Post a Comment" parameters."

I think you have to email WaPo. Of course, your email is then recorded. :)

I for one, don't mind Jokester. He's not contributing to the tirade of insults that's ever present on this blog.

Posted by: Mr.Honda | November 9, 2006 2:50 PM

Deleting blog entries is a strict no-no. WaPo gets advertising money based on the number of blog comments.

Haven't you figured out why Leslie keeps making such inflammatory remarks?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 2:52 PM

"When it comes right down to the nitty griddy, Women, who are mothers of children are more important than both men and childless women. This attitude will be reflected in any decent society."

Someone has a VERY big head! I guess Mother Teresa wasn't important enough for her (assuming it is a her).

Posted by: SS | November 9, 2006 2:56 PM

"I guess Mother Teresa wasn't important enough for her (assuming it is a her)."

Oh, her - she's o.k. It is "Mother" Teresa, after all.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 3:02 PM

"When it comes right down to the nitty griddy, Women, who are mothers of children are more important than both men and childless women. This attitude will be reflected in any decent society."
I think there's a fallacy here. The fallacy is comparing the importance of certain adults to certain other adults instead of comparing the importance of certain generations to certain other generations.
My opinion is this: It's not that moms are more important than non-moms (or dads more important than non-dads).
It's that the next generation is more important that the present generation. Thus the need for the present generation to make certain sacrifies to ensure a better world for future generations -- such as foregoing the quick development buck in favor of preserving clean air and clean water, or enduring a little adult inconvenience and expense in order to improve public schools or ensure a safe, healthy environment for children.
What I see is that the (overly, overly hyped) conflicts between parents and childfree people are premised on the idea of competition between adults. Really, if there is a competition, it's over the question of whether resources and attention should be allocated to old, over-the-hill farts like me or to the young, who represent the future.
(I am reminded of something that Jerry Seinfeld once said. It's not an exact quote, but he said: Kids are wonderful, but you can never forget that they are on this earth to replace you.)

Posted by: anon mom | November 9, 2006 3:07 PM

I watched a TV show the other day on Milton Hershey, founder of Hershey's Chocolate. He and his wife were unable to have children. They devoted their entire fortune to founding a boy's school for the poorest boys and left quite a "legacy." It is possible to not be a parent but work hard to make the world a better place for those who come after us.

Posted by: Mom of 2 | November 9, 2006 3:18 PM

//I watched a TV show the other day on Milton Hershey, founder of Hershey's Chocolate. He and his wife were unable to have children. They devoted their entire fortune to founding a boy's school for the poorest boys and left quite a "legacy." //

The legacy really is this:
1) Mr. and Mrs. Hershey established a trust fund in 1909 to found a school for "poor, healthy white, male orphans"
2) girls were not provided for at his new school because "boys ... don't take to housework and homemaking chores like girls do... The other reason is because the boy is in need of training as a future head of a family and the main wage earner. If he's trained well enough, he can buy a home and support his family so his wife won't have to work - outside the home that is."

Nevertheless, it is absolutely admirable that one should give of his/her wealth for charitable cause.

Posted by: To Mom of 2 | November 9, 2006 3:31 PM

"When two egotists meet, it's an I for an I."

Now THAT is an appropriate joke for this blog! Ha!


Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 3:38 PM

"Nevertheless, it is absolutely admirable that one should give of his/her wealth for charitable cause."

Then why quibble? The Hershey's were far more generous than most of us, and really quite enlightened for their times. 100 years from now, how many of us will they be able to say that about (regardless of how avidly we spout today's commonly accepted social wisdom)? Their cause was good, even if it wasn't as expansive we might prefer. And honestly - don't we get behind similarly targeted causes today? Programs for low-income women? Pregnant teenagers? Single mothers? Historically minority colleges? Ex-prostitutes? Abused women? Abused children? Each and every one of which is worthy (and I dare you to determine which is the worthiest cause). The Hersheys chose to help poor young men. Perfectly good way to try and make the world a little better place.

Posted by: To To Mom of 2 | November 9, 2006 3:42 PM

"The fallacy is comparing the importance of certain adults to certain other adults instead of comparing the importance of certain generations to certain other generations."

Nowhere is it written that we can't do both

;-)

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 3:44 PM

Slightly OT, but everytime I read the blog title I hear the song from "High School Musical" (having heard the soundtrack many, many times).

Great discussion today.

Posted by: jessker7 | November 9, 2006 3:45 PM

The Hersheys should have given their money to women and girls because they were far far more oppressed and needy than poor, healthy white male orphans.

Another example of gender bias.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 3:47 PM

"Far be it from me to defend Hitler's mom- how weird is that to write. I read the real problem was his drunken, child abusing father that beat him regularly and emotionally abusd his mother whom he loved. I sure case for impotent rage in a young man."

Aha! Good point! And it's mighty funny, isn't it, that when it comes to speaking of bad ways of Hitler, etc., the "bad mother" is blamed, and nothing is mentioned of the father? It's automatically assumed that the mother is the one who screwed the bad folks up, when it could have been the father or neither parent. At least some of these comments were made by women. Can we be our own worth enemy sometimes, or what?

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | November 9, 2006 3:48 PM

I recently read a biography of Hershey and, according to that, he chose to support boys because, in those days, family members (aunts, uncles, grandparents and the like) were more likely to jump in and help girls. Orphoned boys were seen as more trouble.

Posted by: Sam | November 9, 2006 3:58 PM

Jessker7

Me too! It's driving me nuts!

Posted by: Sam | November 9, 2006 4:01 PM


To: (Anonymous) | November 9, 2006 03:42 PM

The point that Mom of 2 was making, was that Mr and Mrs Hershey built a charity for all white males, with deliberate discrimination in mind. Specifically excluding minorities/females because they didn't feel there was any reason for their development.

Today the school does accept all children

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 4:08 PM

Everyone who chooses a charity to donate to excludes others. It's the same argument that today's blog was focused on. And, like the author stated, "we're all in this together." We all are trying to be good people and fair, trying to make the world a better place, but there will always be complainers who like to talk about the negative side of any issue.

The Hershey School now has more girls than boys BTW.

A friend of my mother is a graduate of that school. He is a veteran, an upstanding member of the community, a father of 3, and a grandfather of 8. In the long run, women did benefit by his experience at the school. Had he not been taken in by the school, I doubt he would have led the life he now leads.

The point of the matter is that we all can make a difference, no matter our status as parents or whatever else defines us by others' standards.

Posted by: Mom of 2 | November 9, 2006 4:08 PM

"And it's mighty funny, isn't it, that when it comes to speaking of bad ways of Hitler, etc., the "bad mother" is blamed, and nothing is mentioned of the father?"

That's because men aren't necessary - haven't you read Maureen Dowd's book? Can't have it both ways - if we're unnecessary, you can't blame us when we're not there.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 4:08 PM


To: (Anonymous) | November 9, 2006 03:42 PM

The point that Mom of 2 was making, was that Mr and Mrs Hershey built a charity for all white males, with deliberate discrimination in mind. Specifically excluding minorities/females because they didn't feel that their development was important.

Today the school does accept all children.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 4:10 PM

"The point that Mom of 2 was making, was that Mr and Mrs Hershey built a charity for all white males, with deliberate discrimination in mind. Specifically excluding minorities/females because they didn't feel there was any reason for their development."

Get off it - you're projecting motives back over a period of 100 years. If history tells us anything, it's that our great-grandkids will think we were jackasses, and that 95% of our most cherished beliefs and causes were entirely wrongheaded (and yes, I do intend to include you in that verdict). These people saw a need, and tried to fill it. If they didn't see the same needs that you, with the benefit of a century's worth of hindsight can discern, that just means they were people subject to the common limitations of their time. So are we. Get over it, and stop trying to judge the people of the past - that game does nothing but puff our current, modern-day, oh-so-enlightened egos.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 4:15 PM

"Specifically excluding minorities/females because they didn't feel there was any reason for their development."

I wasn't judging them. Right or wrong, that was the the majority belief back then. Look how far minorities/females have had to overcome.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 4:27 PM

while i certainly wouldn't want a construction worker building my deck to try and get it done too quickly & therefore not get it done safely, i wouldn't want to have to PAY him (or her) for 12 hours if it was only an 8 hour job.

just look at the insanity of my own workplace; it is 4:35 the day before a holiday, the weather is beautiful, the server which runs the software i support is down and everybody else is gone but my boss somehow believes that for me to be productive i MUST stay here for a full 8 hours!!!! i can't do diddley squat but i must stay here for 8 hours. stupid.

Posted by: quark | November 9, 2006 4:42 PM

First of all, none of Jokester's jokes were funny, he obviously just loves the attention. If he's even a real human being.

Now getting back to the real stuff...

"Mr and Mrs Hershey built a charity for all white males, with deliberate discrimination in mind"
??? You gotta be kidding me, most every charity "discriminates" -- religious charities, NAACP, Guatemalan orphans, whatever. The organization is usually set up to fill a specific perceived need. Poor, orphaned white males sound pretty needy to me (not that it's any of my business). I'm sure there were lots of other equally or even more deserving recipients, but it doesn't seem appropriate to question another's choice, when they're doing a noble deed.

Posted by: spunky | November 9, 2006 4:42 PM

"girls were not provided for at his new school because "boys ... don't take to housework and homemaking chores like girls do... The other reason is because the boy is in need of training as a future head of a family and the main wage earner. If he's trained well enough, he can buy a home and support his family so his wife won't have to work - outside the home that is." "

My sister-in-law, who last time I checked is a woman, went to the Hershey boarding school free of charge.

Posted by: momof4 | November 9, 2006 4:45 PM

Who attends Milton Hershey School*?
Milton Hershey School admits boys and girls of any race, color, religion, nationality, and ethnic origin to all of the programs and activities made available to students of the School.

Children considered for admission must meet the following criteria:

Come from a family of low income, limited resources, and social need
Be from the ages of 4-15 years old
Have the ability to learn
Be free of serious emotional and behavioral problems that disrupt life in the classroom or the home
Be able to take part in the School's program
Be a United States citizen
The School currently has more than 1,400 students enrolled in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Students come predominantly from PA (76%) and the mid-Atlantic region, and represent more than 29 states in the U.S. Approximately 40% of the students have siblings who also attend MHS. The ethnicity of the students is: 47% Caucasian; 31% African American; 11% Hispanic; 1% Asian; 10% Other.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 9, 2006 4:48 PM

Jokester - PLEASE LEAVE. You're not that funny. They're not even jokes, just stupid puns.

Posted by: enough already | November 9, 2006 4:49 PM

the fact that you're at work at this point is silly, I agree, but that wasn't the point I was making with respect to the contractor building the deck -- or most of the people who say, I can do that 12 hour job in 8 hours. The contractor gives you an estimate, you agree, and he has every incentive to do the job as quickly as possible and move on to another project. He's not charging by the hour. Neither is the salaried employee who works 'til 10 p.m. She generally earns what she earns, and whining about how late you worked last night impresses no one.

Posted by: to quark | November 9, 2006 4:49 PM

I dunno. Funny to me that this is written by someone who probably already has access to a comfy lifestyle and who wins out no matter what happens with this debate.

Arguing that everyone should get the hook up is nice, but that's like Bill Gates telling people that they should give this "billionare thing" a try because of how much it affords.

Yeah, it would be great to be afforded that sort of flexibility, but at the end of the day it's usually only afforded to folks with kids. For someone who has that flexibility to wax poetic about how nice it would be if we all had it seems to me a bit off kilter.

Posted by: Ep Sato | November 9, 2006 4:57 PM

Come on, let's get over 200 comments. Wapo charges ad rates based on blog comments.

Thanks Jokester for being one of the top bloggers today!

Posted by: Counting | November 9, 2006 5:08 PM

What did the bloggers say to the *sshole?
STFU!

Posted by: spunky | November 9, 2006 5:38 PM

In regards to today's blog post,
I concur.

I have no objections to across the board access to flexibility at work provided that performance (production, quality, etc.) standards are the same for all as well. Of course, you could implement that in many ways.

Recognizing that production for a lot of office work is ambiguous, still you might say the standard is 3 units per week. If you can get that done in 30 hours, have fun. If it takes you 50 hours, too bad for you, and I hope there is no concern about using more electricity and other resources to get the job done.

Or you could say you have the option of 20 hours or 40 hours. If you work 20, you must produce 2 units. If you choose 40 hours, you must produce 4 units.

Of course all units must have great quality. If you can produce units of equal quality at a faster rate than required, you could be in for higher compensation. Great for you!

Certainly, by that measure, whether one has children or not is irrelevant. I am childless. I know of at least two women (and there are probably many more) with children at my job who have a higher rate of production and quality. They get paid more accordingly as they rightfully should.

Lastly, off topic. Good jokes, jokester. Maybe I'll read this blog more often if I know you're going to break up the monotony with one liners.

Posted by: Manuel | November 9, 2006 8:30 PM

Spunky,

Jokester is the best. Really lightens up the blog. It's only a line so skip by, ignore it, whatever. Maybe try not being such a grouch.

Posted by: to spunky | November 10, 2006 2:43 AM

I agree, flexibility and options for all. The problem is that's not how it works and there is real resentment between singletons, married no kids and working moms (no so much against working dads). I work super long hours as an attorney and those of us without kids joke that we'll only get time off or go home before the sun sets when we have kids. Yes, I know, I chose the law and the long hours that go along with it. I'm also super happy that my firm offers flexibility, leave, part-time schedules, etc. to new moms and dads. The problem is that when the hours are reduced for new moms/dads those hours are not picked up by a new hire rather they are directly transfered to those of us who do not have kids. Yes, the resentment for this transfer should be directed at the firm or company and not the new mom/dad, but sadly that is not how human nature works.

But, I totally agree that we all need to work together and get government and corp. america to offer better benefits, more time off, more paid time off and leave, part-time schedules with full benefits, etc., etc., etc.

Posted by: Katie | November 10, 2006 9:18 AM

Discrimination is fine as long as it is done for a PC group in the name of "diversity". Another liberal hypocrisy.

Posted by: pATRICK | November 10, 2006 10:41 AM

A lack of a sense of humor is evidence of a feeble mind, GO JOKESTER GO! Some of these bloggers are wound tighter than a clock.

Posted by: pATRICK | November 10, 2006 10:44 AM

"The problem is that when the hours are reduced for new moms/dads those hours are not picked up by a new hire rather they are directly transfered to those of us who do not have kids. Yes, the resentment for this transfer should be directed at the firm or company and not the new mom/dad, but sadly that is not how human nature works."

Hey, I got an idea - why don't we just pay you more than the people who're working reduced hours?

And we can let them pick - reduced hours and reduced pay, or same hours and same pay!

Seriously - all the happy talk about what's "fair" depresses me. Most people don't want "fair" - they want to make sure they're getting everything that's coming to them, and just a bit more.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 10, 2006 12:20 PM

I feel that what matters most is working smartly than just working the 9 required hours. What if I work more efficiently and get the work done which is slotted to be done in 3 working days in only one? I have seen so many people just stretch the working hours so as to finish it in the timeframe allocated?

so why can't anyone work less work hours if this person works smartly and more efficiently than others? Why the time recording farce when there are many who just fill their time without doing what they were meant to.

I always said to my manager - if you and the company are good to me I shall be too. I fact I did more ..

Posted by: CoachSLK | November 10, 2006 6:20 PM

working at 430 pm is not working late. my work hours are 9 to 6 so 430 is not late, at least not to me. what i was complaining about was the mind set that i had to be in the office. what did management think would happen if i had actually left 90 minutes ahead of my scheduled time? that is what the point of the arguement is - the lack of flexibility on the part of management. the idea that work must be 8 hours a day 5 days a week. why not 10 hours a day 4 days a week. why not split the job between 2 competent people who are willing to work 20 hours each? why is the 40 hour work week such a sacred cow? who was it who said sacred cows make the best hamburger? mark twain or ambrose bierce?

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