Friday, May 11, 2007

Working Too Many Hours: Flexibility Needed

The root of the problem of our time crisis is the workplace. We work too many hours. In the past, we got people’s attention when we told them that we work nine weeks more than the average European. But now that example isn’t going to work as well. Even though there is much evidence that the French 35-hour work week is successful by many criteria, the French have a new leader who opposes it. Maybe we should talk about “flexibility” in the workplace. A story posted on Tom Paine makes such a suggestion and presents a good argument.

"Workplace flexibility is about innovations in how work gets done. It includes flexibility in the scheduling of full-time hours, flexibility in the number of hours worked and the location of work, career flexibility with multiple points for exit and re-entry into the work force and the flexibility to address unexpected and ongoing personal and family needs.

"The implementation of flexible workplaces can be achieved without sacrificing employers' strategic business and organizational objectives. It does not have to mean businesses suffer. In fact, groups from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to Corporate Voices for Working Families maintain that flexible workplace arrangements can help businesses recruit and retain employees."

Many professionals already have some flexibility, although not often in the length of working weeks. But so many people think we can’t have laws that give us a longer vacation or a shorter work day, that talking about flexibility might be the foot in the door.

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