3 responses to “(In)Flexible Scheduling”

  1. Alexandru Lazar

    “Of course, the ones in academia have also had flexible schedules, but they have to deal with the fact that, no matter how flexible their schedule is, they somehow need to get in 70-80 hours per week. ”

    I have to say this is the part I hated most. My schedule ’round the year was mostly something like this:

    – January: nothing happens. Everyone’s drowsy from the holiday.
    – February, March: boring routine tests and experiments.
    – April: holy snail we need to finish that abstract => one week of work at 20 hours/day
    – May: holy snail we need to finish that article => two weeks of work at 20 hours/day. Weekends? What weekends?
    – June: boring routine tests and experiments
    – July: final exams, nothing happens. Go to conferences, sunbathe etc.
    – August: nothing happens
    – September: holy snail we need to finish that abstract and that one and that article => two weeks of work at 20 hours/day. Weekends? What weekends?
    – October: nothing happens
    – November: holy snail we need to…
    – December: gifts, party, nothing happens

    It wasn’t a “flexible” schedule — the year was just split in three parts:

    – One part where nothing happened, nobody was around and nobody was even there to see if you showed up at work
    – One part where you just had to run various experiments, draft reports and so on, so you could mostly work from home or do whatever you wanted to do at whatever hour you wanted to
    – One part where you had no life, family, sleep, food, drink without caffeine and weekends were out of order.

    The first two took most of the time, but it was the last one that killed you, despite eventually amounting to maybe 6 or 8 weeks per year at most. It would constantly leave me with funky sleeping schedules, miseerable feelings and caffeine-processing liver.

    I now work as an embedded systems engineer and frankly, it’s far better. The schedule is not fantastically flexible — we usually come around the same hour and leave around the same hour — but these are decent hours (come around 10 AM, leave around 7 PM), and we take breaks liberally. Coming earlier or later is fine as long as we can all be in the office around 10-11 AM in case there’s an important meeting.

    For most of the time, it’s not as flexible as when I was in academia, where except for those dreaded weeks I could mostly work for home (or, in August, not at all). But now there are no times when I have to pull out 16 hours workdays with no weekends for two or three weeks in a row, which is considerably better for my mental sanity.

    There also seems to be a little bit more care for everyone’s personal time. I’m not expected to work weekends, regardless of how pressing deadlines are. if I’m doing a particularly interesting thing, I sometimes pull two or three hours in a Saturday morning but that’s all. That wasn’t the case before — if the deadline was Monday, we would usually work frantically through all Saturday and most of Sunday.

  2. The Morning Person « FCIWYPSC

    […] I mentioned on my EngineerBlogs post earlier this week, I’ve been working some funky hours.  Namely, my son’s babysitter […]

  3. Fluxor

    I love my job flexibility. I think it has something to do with us being a satellite office and the boss not being on-site. Else, how can I ever take off in the middle of the day and drive my kids to a hockey tournament, shivering in the stands while temperatures outside is soaring in the mid-30s C (mid 90s F for you ‘mericans). Others at my office would leave at 3pm here and there to pick up their kids from something or rather. All guys here, and we all appreciate the flexibility.