Equally Shared Parenting - Half the Work ... All the Fun

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Here's where we keep you updated on news about parenting as it relates to division of responsibilities, career versus home decisions, work/life balance, and legislative and grass-roots movements toward equality or better choices for families. We'll also throw in our opinions of life as equal parents in a nonequal world, regardless of what's in the news.

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Equality Blog

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Pretend Flexibility

Time for another dispatch from the job-search. As you likely know, I'm in job-search mode after having been laid-off in a corporate outsourcing effort from my long-term IT job. And I've been looking for something rather challenging - a reduced hours (or at least flexible schedule) position that pays well enough and provides meaningful work. I'm out to prove that a man requesting flexibility is every bit as dedicated and effective on-the-job as one who wants standard hours.

Well, I found something close to my goal a few weeks ago. An IT position in a company about three miles from home, with interesting work assignments and room to grow. Everyone I met during my three rounds of interviews stressed how the company was so family-friendly and flexible. I was assured that "people come in late, leave early, and no one cares." Stuff I was surprised anyone wanted to admit to me. I was also told that there was nothing about the open position that would require such fast turnaround that it couldn't wait until the next day or so. Perfect!

After I was offered the job, I opened up the negotiations for flextime. I asked for reduced hours first (32-36/week) - the answer was "no." I then asked for flexible full-time hours - perhaps four 10-hour days or three 10-hour days and two 5-hour days. Again, I got the big "no." I must have given these people 25 options, including on-call arrangements, and they wouldn't budge an inch. Except to offer me more money.

So much for flexibility. It seems that they can brag about cutting corners but they can't legitimately allow a guy to work the schedule that would give him a balanced life and time with his kids. I don't want a job where I'm sneaking out to make daycare pickup. I want people to be able to count on me, and me on them.

This job looked great on paper, but was not what it seemed. Pretend flexibility isn't what I'm after. Onward....


Blogger JohnMcG said...

Well, I suspect that if you worked their way for six months or so, you could have then arranged a more flexible schedule.

Not that this is good. Why should flexibility only be for those lucky enough never to get laid off? But that's probably where we are right now.

11:44 AM  
Blogger Marc said...

Hi johnmcg,

Your suggestion to work their schedule for a period of time and then negotiate is a good one that I may follow down the road a bit. However, I'm not sure it would have worked in this case. During negotiations the hiring manager told me his whole group, including himself, worked about 55 hours per week. Not because there was that much work but rather just because it's who he is.

Luckily, I'm not is a position where I need to accept a pay cut, compared to my previous job, along with demands for long hours. I'll continue to work on other projects and interests that will hopefully lead to a better situation.

2:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Marc. Just found your blog through the Evolution of Dad project.

This sounds so much like what we went through a couple of years ago. I totally relate.

We ended up moving back to my husband's childhood home and setting up shop as freelancers, taking a 3/4 cut in pay and really working ourselves hard the last few years.

But, now, our life is ours (well, except for the whole pay the bills thing:)

It was a super tough, really great move. But, I thought it was really sad that this was the ONLY way we could ever find the flexible work space that we needed to raise our family together.

6:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Marc,
Sorry to hear this. What is really annoying is the rhetoric. If they could have come clean about the company policy of "the work family" it might have saved both of you a lot of time. I really respect your choice to strive for what you really want--settling is often the easier choice, but doesn't seem to work out in the long run. Good luck!

9:15 AM  

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