It can be tough to hang onto a part-time or telecommuting setup when you’re going through a recession.
I tried working part-time as a reporter for this newspaper years ago when my children were small, just as the economy hit the skids in a previous downturn. Although my bosses did their best to find a reduced-hours beat for me, cost controls, coupled with the nature of our work in that bureau, meant all the professional jobs suitable for me were full-time, heavy-travel positions. After briefly considering a beat that would have required me to travel often to Europe, far from my infant and two-year-old, I chose to leave the staff to freelance for a while.
That experience hovered at the back of my mind as I reported today’s Work & Family column, on how to hang onto your flexible work arrangement in a recession. These days, employees with measurable, clear job objectives, good communication with their bosses, essential cutting-edge skills and the ability to hit performance targets have a fair chance of hanging on to their flextime, part-time or work-at-home setups, I found. Indeed, some employers seem to be more amenable to this than in the past.
But so many obstacles can still get in the way. All the important jobs in your office may be set up as full-time, office-based gigs. Your manager may have an ’all-hands-on-deck’ mentality, making it harder to work flexibly. Co-workers may resent your absences from the office, even if you try to split the load equitably. Worse yet, some managers simply assume that anyone who can’t work 60 hours a week is uncommitted and unnecessary.
Readers, what’s the attitude toward flexible work arrangements at your office? Have you managed to hang onto a nontraditional work setup through this recession? Do colleagues’ flexible setups cause problems for you at work?