Work until the job is finished
A common practice of many employers in today's weak job market is to expect “salaried” employees to work until the job is finished, often 12 or more hours in a day. The employer benefits from hours of labor that are free and are essentially unpaid overtime. While most workers are not in a position to confront employers about the situation, high level management might have the right method to address the problem.
Achieving balance: Working a 9-to-5 schedule
“I walk out of this office every day at 5:30 so I'm home for dinner with my kids at 6, and interestingly, I've been doing that since I had kids. I did that when I was at Google, I did that here, and I would say it's not until the last year, two years that I'm brave enough to talk about it publicly. Now I certainly wouldn't lie, but I wasn't running around giving speeches on it.”
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg prompted a number of questions when, in a video posted on Makers.com, she told an interviewer that she works a 9-to-5 schedule, namely “whatever happened to ‘work-life balance'?”
Many hope to take the shame out of achieving that balance. Mashable Reader Jason Hunter commented “…5:30 as an on average time for going home should be acceptable for everyone — single or not single … family or no family — assuming you don't come into the office everyday at 11 a.m.”
The ability to work flexibly is a perk
Too often across all industries, the ability to work flexibly is a perk – one that has to be earned over the course of one's career, or something that's on the books, but only approved in special cases.
A report from the Council of Economic Advisers, commissioned for a 2010 White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility, shows flexibility is a best practice with many benefits including: increased productivity, reduced turnover and absenteeism, and higher morale and company commitment.
Sandberg's admittance reminds us of just how little we're asking for when we ask for flexibility – getting home to have dinner with our families, or taking an ailing parent to the doctor.
We know that workers of all ages and genders and across all industries want more control over how and where they work so they can have a life, with or without family. Until we lift the stigma to flexible work arrangements, we can anticipate that workers will be wary of actually taking advantage of them. It's up to both employers and employees to re-establish the “balance” in “work-life balance.”