The New Flextime: Summers Off?

Posted by: Michelle Conlin on July 25

mom kissing baby.jpg

I am deep in a fantasy. It is a new kind of fantasy for me, having nothing to do with the obtaining of something Marc Jacobs or the receiving of a free night’s stay (room service included) at the Four Seasons.

No, this fantasy is of an entirely different order. It involves the new currency in the workplace. The cushiest and most lusted after: the ability to control one’s time. The flexibilty to sculpt one’s schedule.

It is with the thought of this new benefit in mind—and in heavy withdrawal from an extra-luxe vacation—that I am filled with the fantasy of taking next summer off.

I first learned of this workplace micro-trend last summer, when I wrote a piece about the shape of perks to come.

In reporting this little ditty, I learned that more women at consulting shops like Deloitte and Touche and Ernst and Young were slicing and dicing their schedules so as to take the summers off to spend with their kids.

At around the same time, I heard the lovely story of a former colleague who has swung at deal at her employer where she works full time during the school year and then takes the summers off to dabble a la plage with her two boys. In return she receives 80% of her paycheck. Believe me. This girl is good. They would do anything to keep her.

Heaven knows most working women—save the trustafarian ovarian-lottery winners—can’t afford this kind of flexibility. Not without big-money-man husbands.

And many jobs wouldn’t lend themselves to such an arrangement.

But work with me. With the prospect of having the summer off, I know I for one would practice an entirely different kind of spending discipline so as to salt away enough to afford such largesse. I’m also waging that there are more kinds of knowledge-worker jobs that could be arranged to take advantage of such scheduling paradise.

Does this sound lifestsyle redesign sound delicious to anyone else?

Reader Comments

Robert S.

July 27, 2008 07:09 PM

I agree with you in theory, but in practice there are only a few companies that are willing to even try something like this. Heck, I get smacked down because I'm one minute late. Of course, I always said the best and the brightest always flock to companies that recognize their input and value. Which is exactly what I'm doing! It's not until you are gone that most places realize just how much you contributed and maybe, just maybe, the fact you wanted to spent 15 minutes with your family wasn't such a far-flung request after all.

Anonymous

August 12, 2008 12:37 PM

Yes, this does sound quite appealing, particularly as a young mother of two children. The constant struggle that most working women face is making sure they are able to satisfy their career ambitions without sacrificing the invaluable time of being around your children in their early years. I haven't yet found the right balance, but I do know that having an employer who is understanding and empathetic to the challenges of being a working mom is not only helpful, but necessary. If you can make the right business case for a "summer off" scenario and have a proposal on how this would work, then go for it. If you are a highly valued and quality employee who shows a strong sense of dedication and commitment, then the employer would be foolish for not giving your situation strong consideration.

Mike Wilkerson - 2GuysTalking

August 25, 2008 11:39 AM

I'm trying to find the appear of this, not only based on the comments provided here, but just because - initially - it sounds so outside the box.

But then I realized: I used to DO THIS when I was a kid! The Summers off were where many memories, habits and relationships were forged and they continue to fuel me to this day. The question then becomes:

Could I do "Summers Off?"

I don't think I could, mostly because of the nature of my job during the day in general. Even were I to venture out on to my own, the inability to tend to business over the summer (especially with movies galore coming out, people revisiting their marketing campaigns, reunions, graduations, marriages, etc) - that's a tall order.

Very interesting article though. Thanks for it!

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Cali Ressler, Jody Thompson and Brazen CareeristBest Buy HR renegades Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson and Yahoo’s “Brazen Careerist” columnist, Penelope Trunk, tell us how to juggle responsibilities without going crazy.

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