Just a Thought
Lisa Belkin's Life's Work column last week tackled the issue of how businesses are helping employees handle the rising price of gas. In today's tanking economy (sorry, I couldn't resist), reducing gas consumption or paying for gas is one of the newest ways that companies can retain good workers.
One of the more common strategies to curb gas usage is to offer (or mandate) employees a compressed work week - typically four 10-hour days. I blogged recently about the City of Birmingham AL experimenting with such a plan, for one example. This idea has been met with anxiety by many parents who are concerned about how to make school drop-offs and pick-ups with the longer hours. And who don't like the idea of getting home so late each day that all they see of their children is how they brush their teeth. A real issue.
But what if this idea makes for an opportunity instead? Not just the perk of a routine 3-day weekend, but an opportunity for ESP. Say a two-income couple with kids is faced with compressed workweek offers. It is likely they would request to stagger their days to avoid increases in childcare (and resultant costs). So, for example, he elects to work Monday through Thursday, and she picks Tuesday through Friday. This automatically reduces their outside childcare needs to 3 days per week (and if they stagger their hours on those three days - say 7-5 and 8:30-6:30, they might not even need additional childcare hours on even those three days).
Even better, both parents now have a full day each week of solo-parenting time. Dad has a whole day to hang out with his kids, doing things his way without any supervision by mom. Pretty soon, dad is fully competent in his new weekly gig and starts to really enjoy it. Voila! Equally shared parenting is born! Pretty soon, this arrangement could lead to requests for four 8-hour days instead...just to take the edge off those long days...and then think of the possibilities for balanced lives!
I'm hoping that compressed workweek offers become more plentiful, as Lisa suggests they may. Not because they will work for everyone, but because they open up the doors for all sorts of possibilities that could. What would you do if your employer was willing to listen?