Alternatives to the 9 to 5 Grind : Is There a Better Way?
There are many reasons why the typical 9 to 5 office job is not for everyone. Some people are more productive during evening hours. Others prefer the flexibility of being able to work from home. If you feel suffocated by the rules and requirements of the 9 to 5 grind, you might be interested in some of today’s alternative working arrangements. Read these pros and cons, and explore the new career options that are benefiting many of America’s working moms.
Option 1: The 4-Day Work Week
Many companies are redesigning the 40-hour work week, so that employees can opt to work four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days. That means you would have Monday or Friday off – every week!
Pros: You get a third day added to your weekend. And since it’s a week day, you can often accomplish more than you would on a Saturday. Doctors’ offices and shopping centers are less busy when most other people are at work or in school. You’ll save on commuting costs (making 8 trips to the office instead of 10), and gain availability to chaperon school field trips or attend kids’ after-school sports.
Cons: Working 8 to 6 can seriously interfere with breakfast and dinner in your household. Depending on your commute time, you may have to leave the house before your kids are on the school bus. And it could be 7:30 at night before dinner is ready. Also, the “free” day might be deceiving, depending on your career field. Clients and partners who don’t share your 4-day work week may still expect you to be available during all 5 weekdays.
Option 2: Job Sharing
While job sharing is still a relatively new concept, it has many benefits – especially for moms. You can team up with another mom (or dad), and split the duties of one, full-time employee.
Pros: Full time jobs are often better quality jobs than part-time jobs. If you work as a cashier or a waitress, for example, there’s usually not much job security or room to advance. When you split a full time job, however, you can claim ownership of a long-term position. And you only have to contribute 20 to 30 hours each week. This is also a good way to secure health benefits without working full time hours.
Cons: If you don’t have a great relationship with your job share partner, the arrangement could become very stressful. Likewise, if the terms of the job share aren’t clearly outlined, you may wind up feeling overworked or undervalued. Someone else might get credit for your work. And you might have to shoulder the blame for someone else’s errors.
Option 3: Telecommuting
Working from home, also known as “telecommuting,” is a dream come true for many busy moms. More and more employers are giving their employees the option to work from home – either partially or on a full time basis.
Pros: You’ll save hundreds of dollars on commuting costs, and you’ll save a significant amount of time getting ready every morning. No more packing your lunch, or spending money to eat out every afternoon. No more worries over bad hair days. And no more battling with fierce weather conditions.
Cons: Many people don’t have the self-discipline to stay focused while working from home. You might be tempted to check what’s on TV, or do your laundry in between projects. You might be more inclined to answer a personal phone call, or even keep your kids at home during the day. Over time, these distractions could affect your work – possibly even your job.
Option 4: Working Outside Traditional “Business Hours”
There are many benefits that come with working outside of traditional “business hours.” If your job is one that is scheduled in shifts – like nursing jobs, certain criminal justice jobs, or certain service-related jobs – you may be able to investigate this option.
Pros: Many businesses offer a night shift or a “third shift” position that pays extra money. Even though the business or company is open during this time, night shift work tends to be quieter, and involves fewer interruptions. Similarly, you can earn more money if you’re willing to work on weekends and holidays. The other advantage is that you’ll get home from work just as your kids are preparing for school. You can help them to get ready and get out the door.
Cons: Your sleep schedule will suffer. Not everyone can re-train their body to sleep during daylight hours. And not every family situation is conducive to this arrangement. Some people discover that the time apart and the missed holidays are not worth the extra money.
Jennifer Applin is a freelance writer and will soon be the mother of six young children born within a 5-year span. Her writing focuses on strategies for busy parents to juggle it all.