work-life balance in bad times
Jen said she liked my wonkish take on work-family issues, so here's a post for her.
On money.com, I found this survival guide to keeping your job in a recession, which includes the following recommendation:
preoccupation when the economy was humming along nicely, "having time
for outside interests has to go right out the window now," says Bright.
"You need to concentrate on doing whatever it takes to make yourself
I agree with the second half of this — being indispensable is definitely a good way to keep your job — but not necessarily the first. If you're as productive in 8 hours as your colleagues are in 10 hours of sitting at their desks goofing off, you should be ok. As long as your boss knows that you're productive, that is. And if your boss doesn't know how productive you are, you've got problems, regardless of the economy.
That said, I suspect full-time telecommuters are somewhat more vulnerable to layoff than people who show up to an office, in part because it's a lot harder to tell someone you see every day that you don't need their services.
This blog post from the Sloan Work-Family Network suggests that people are pitching work-life flexibility as a way to reduce costs and boost productivity in a recession. Juliet Bourke worries that this could cut both ways (e.g. employers might cut people's hours involuntarily — and BLS data supports that there's a lot of involuntary part-time work out there), but concludes that it's probably a positive thing if it gets more employers used to the idea of workplace flexibility.
I also think there's another argument to be made, that if companies can't afford to give workers raises, but want to reward them and keep their loyalty, things like flexible hours or telecommuting can be a cheap way to make workers happy. The downside of that argument is that it reinforces the idea that workplace flexibility is a perk for your best workers, rather than something that should be generally available.
What are you all seeing in real life? I can't seem to find the specific post, but Laura at 11d has
said that she sees a lot more wall-street types catching the 5pm train
instead of the 7 or 9 pm one, and seeing more of their kids as a result.