When Brigitte sent me this link by email yesterday evening, asking if I would like to blog on it, I was sitting at my desk working. It was 8:00 pm, the younger children were in bed and the older ones were watching James Bond “Moonraker”. I saw Mooraker in the plane to France in the summer of 1979, now my kids watch it as a piece of archive. Not that it dates me or anything…
It’s now 8:00 am the next morning and I am sitting at the kitchen counter with my laptop, working. You will agree that I have an expertise of sorts in matters of work-family balance — or lack thereof. My question today is: “What else is new?”
“Culturally, it paints an unhappy picture,” Ms. Bourne said in an interview Monday. “Where are we going to be if people are overworked, burned out, feeling stress and tension and not recognizing it? There is a societal policy implication.”
One of the reasons the women struggled to balance work and non-work is because they often found themselves working beyond a full work day and work week, the scholars say. The women used various justifications to express their acceptance of that situation.
What else is new under the sun? Men have been taking work home for generations. Were we concerned in the 50’s, 60’s and whatever about the societal policy implications of our poor bread-winners feeling over-worked, stressed, and burned-out and not recognizing it? As long as the bills were paid and the work was done, I didn’t think so. All of a sudden, women – who by the way fought to get the privilege of being over-worked and burned-out – get it and we are concerned about the policy implications. Guess what? If we want the lifestyle that comes with the paycheque, we will have to work for it like the men did. Nowhere is this reflected better than in the business world where start-up success is still very closely linked to sweat input. This leaves the female entrepreneur distressed? Maybe she shouldn’t be an entrepreneur.
The flexibility in “flexible work arrangement” applies to the schedule, not the output. I, for instance, am working from home this morning: my babysitter is on holiday and my oldest daughter is at camp. My husband – who pays the bills that don’t go away, like mortgage and hydro – needs to work more than I do. That’s not sexist, that’s called “keeping the creditors at bay.” So I am working from home. It doesn’t change what has to be done: I still have a foot-long to do list. As a result, I will likely spread my 8-hour day over the next 12 hours. But I had to fight to get the privilege to work from home, partly thanks to all the well-meaning studies suggesting that we, mothers, should have it easier than the average worker. It’s by making sure that the work gets done that I am now able to work from home occasionally. Flexible schedule doesn’t mean flexible output for fixed income. It means that you can be trusted to get the job done.by