Saturday, 14 March 2009

All or nothing

The big thing that bothers me most about traditional employment is that it is offered on an "all or nothing" basis.

I am not afraid of hard work but I want some balance in my life. I dont want to spend most of my life in an office. Please dont think that I am ungrateful for being in work. I do know how lucky I am to have work now.

It seems to me that the traditional 9 - 5 office type work/career does not offer this balance. How many people are lucky enough to work part time out of choice or have a flexible work schedule? I don't know any employers who offer this.

A few years ago I did some locum work at a local firm of Solicitors. Someone in my department had gone on maternity leave and wanted to return to the office for 2 days a week. Lets call her X. I told my boss that actually if he was minded to grant X's application for flexible working then I would be happy to job share with X at 3 days a week. As soon as I opened my mouth I wish I hadn't said anything. My boss said but "what will you do for the other 2 days?" I said oh well "lots of stuff". I felt like saying well I will just be glad to be out of the cage for 2 days but I didn't. But it was the look he gave me which said it all. It was almost as if he could not comprehend why I wouldn't want to work 5 days a week and earn as much as possible.
Anyway it didn't happen.

I read many blogs written by people who want to downshift/downsize etc. There are many discussions about how people will make the transission from a career to early retirement or even semi retirement. They think that if they get bored they will just get a job at McD's or Starbucks et al? But how easy do you think it is for an accountant or a lawyer or an engineer etc to get a job in Starbucks. Its not easy at all. In this economy one would have great difficulty. The problem is that in a recession or times of economic difficulty your plan B is someone else's plan A.

So is there another way? Is there a middle ground? Or, is it the 9 - 5 grind 5 days a week until you manage to become financially independent?


Jerry Critter said...

I understand your troubles with the 9 to 5 job. Now that I have been out of it for several years, I don't think I could go back to working 8 or 9 hours a day, 5 days a week.

I've been very fortunate and have gotten out of that rat race. But it took me about 30 years to gain the necessary experience and business contacts to be able to work on my own terms and not someone elses.

I wish businesses would be more flexible with their people. Unfortunately we all are trained from a very early age to follow a time clock and do everything together at the same time. That is the basis of our whole educational system.

Good luck with your journey.

Retired Syd said...

I'm with you all the way on this one. I'm convinced I would still be working if I could have found a way to get that balance tilted a lot more toward the things I wanted in the non-working part of my life. I'm guessing we'd have a hugely more motivated, efficient workforce if we could figure out a better balance in this regard.

Dreamer said...

Thanks Jerry - it must be fantastic to exit the rat race and work on one's own terms. You've done so well and its all down to your hard work and perseverance. Fantastic!

Syd - Nice to see you here. I agree - I would be more than happy to carry on working indefinately in my current field if I could work on some part time basis - this I would be happy to do. I could see this as a sustainable way of living - working part time leaving the rest of the week to go away for long weekends hiking, biking etc etc.

Anonymous said...

This is all so true - I have a good job but after a health scare last year would dearly like to be able to downshift a bit to something less stressful. But the problem is that I am over-qualified for the sort of comfortable, contained job I would ideally like. And I worry that, if I am not careful, I will 'downshift' to something that I later find is just as stressful -but less well paid! This has happened to people I know and, of course, once you have done that you can never get back to the sort of job you had before(particularly now). Oh, blimey!


PleaseRecycle said...

I thought part-time would be wonderful and my boss was willing to let me work 20 hrs a week. I worked out at first, but after several months, I found it was much harder to leave work "at work". The problem was that I was implicitly expected to do the same amount of work as a full-time worker, but in half the time. Instead of getting the best of both worlds, working and staying home, I was getting the worst of both.

Here's to finding the right balance!

Notes From The Frugal Trenches said...

There is a middle ground but sadly often in the corporate world people just don't see the light.

I personally find 3 days a week ideal - you can enjoy life, have hobbies, help other people all while of course earning enough to pay your bills. You will never die wishing you'd worked more, but you might wish you'd had more children, worked less, spent more time with family & friends.