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A Workshifting Wake-Up Call

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I was recently offered a full-time position with a growing start-up company. The job would highlight my client relationship and project management skills perfectly while allowing me to slide back into a fully functional corporate role, similar to what I have held in the past.

Exciting and flattering? Yes! A good fit? No. Why? Well, what the position would not give me is any flexibility.

After querying the organizational financials, product and client base, I saved the most important question for last: “What is the organization’s culture around flexible hours?” I quickly added that my total hours worked would likely exceed 55 per week, as my hours do now, but I wondered how flexible I could be within that sum.

Needless to say, the start-up’s response was not too encouraging. They were much like the current majority of organizations, where working 9 to 5 is still the norm – particularly for those hoping to achieve some measure of success and corporate kudos. To say I was disappointed at the response would be quite true; to say I was shocked would be an understatement.

Am I living in a workshifting wonderland? I thought. Why are so many organizations still not open to allowing their best resources to work flexibly and therefore achieve the best results for the company?

Aside from the fact that open-mindedness toward workshifting is still in its infancy, I realized that many (traditional) organizations probably hold a few fears and misconceptions. They erroneously believe that remote employees:

  • Are never available when needed
  • Take advantage of the company’s time and use work hours for personal luxuries
  • Are impossible to track and manage
  • Make the company work around their schedules and not vice versa

By understanding the myths of the workshifting lifestyle from a non-workshifting organization’s point of view, we can alleviate these fears. Given the right employee, the right technology and the right intentions, none of the above is true. Rather, if organizations can acknowledge the reality and potential that remote work arrangements offer, we will all be closer to a world of workshifting acceptance.

Photo credit: silentmind8

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Natalya Sabga is a project management professional and operational efficiency expert turned author, consultant and executive education advisor. Fascinated by the study of human behavior, she has parlayed this into a successful writing career. Ms. Sabga is also the author of "From Secretary to CEO: A Guide to Climbing the Corporate Ladder Without Losing Your Identity" (2010). She is also the President of DNterprises, LLC - a firm specializing in project needs' analysis, and project management from implementation to operation. Ms. Sabga is currently working on her next non-fiction narrative, "A PMP's Guide to Project Managing Your Life," and authoring the blog 'ASK N'.
  • Laptop Nomad

    I am with you it would be hard to go back to the 9-5 culture. I worked for the US govt, and traveled once a month foreign. I had a saying just because you are on travel does not mean your program stops.  After teaching for 8 hrs, I went back to the room, and answered e-mail and kept up with the program. The supervisors told me if your butt is not in the cubicle  you are not working. Even though I was on the phone with them or answering the e-mail. I am so glad to be on my own and set my own hrs. It is real freedom. I could never go back.

  • http://cmroman.com/ Cristina

    This post reminds me a recent one I wrote on   determining your workplace priorities. I noted that flexibility was very high on the list for me!  Seconded on the idea that going back to 9-5 would be difficult! As a virtual worker, I hope I’m doing my part to help shift the misconceptions of flex work :) 

  • http://www.teleworkingexpatsforhire.com/ Nicola Pitt

    I’m also stunned that a growing start-up would have such old-fashioned ideas of the work place. It seems our thinking still has a long way to go before it catches up to our technology.