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The New Flextime: Summers Off?

Posted by: Michelle Conlin on July 11, 2008

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

Garland Walton

July 11, 2008 7:51 PM

I work for a Stamford CT nonprofit helping our region’s most disadvantaged children. Burnout in our field is ridiculously high, and wages are low--it's challenging work for lots of reasons. While it's not commonplace, there are those of us (of both genders) in senior management who work our tails off for a bit of flexibility with our schedules… taking an unpaid sabbatical, leaving early on Fridays, etc. Most of us have been there at least nine years--unheard of in our sister nonprofits. We don’t hold typical knowledge-worker positions, yet we’re able to think differently and make it work. I believe it comes down to our executive director’s willingness to keep intelligent, productive workers happy rather than investing another ten years in someone to build their skill- and knowledge set. It’s a compromise that costs little and pays off significant in team member retention.



July 14, 2008 1:43 PM


Brian H

July 17, 2008 12:59 PM

Another twist or two: many schools are starting to experiment with year-round schooling, in which the "summer vacation" is broken up into 3 or 4 small breaks, much like college semesters. Part of the advantage is a reduction in expiry of knowledge from last year that has to be retaught.

And it may save IQs; Austrian research indicates that vacations, especially relax-in-the-sun vacations, reduce IQ significantly, and that some of it is persistent, even permanent.

So, how was your vacation. Yeah, you know the time off you just had? Remember? Hello? Anyone home? ;)


July 18, 2008 8:27 AM

Michelle, Diane, and Jena,

It looks like Management IQ has the summer off, too! :-) This is where I go to get the top business topics of the day. The media has a lot of stories but it's nice to have the most relevant ones highlighted.



September 3, 2008 11:25 PM

Yes. I'm a freelance writer, and I still dream about such a job.

I would gladly give up 20 percent of my salary to have summer off with my child.

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