Entries for February 2007

telecommuting and the neverending workday

One of the themes in my course on workplace flexibility is the need to push back against corporate demands for a 24/7/365 workload. Doctors carry pagers, managers carry laptops and cellphones. How do they fight back when their coworkers or bosses seem to expect them to be available constantly?

There's a good blog entry at Web Worker Daily on 5 ways to get work under control. They are the basic tips, of course, and yet not practiced by many.

During my recent medical leave, I was off the computer entirely for about 10 days, and then checking email only intermittently for another few weeks. I was amazed by how much new time opened up in my day! In particular, about 40 percent of my email could be deleted unread if it was more than 48 hours old. So now that I have returned to health, I have resolved not to chase after the ephemeral, the seemingly-urgent, or the request-of-the-moment. I now check email only once I day (or at most, twice) -- and never after dinner.

While it is wonderful to have the flexibility that carrying my new laptop anywhere allows, it is important to use that flexibility to my benefit as well as my employer's.

Anyone who needs me more urgently knows my cellphone number. (And I do turn that one off, sometimes, too!)

So, how do others manage against the neverending workday?

workplace flexibility for dads

Brian Reid, also known as RebelDad, wrote about an interesting question recently. Are there daddy wars coming in the suburbs, and have the mommy wars (stay-at-home vs. employed mothers) been resolved, or at least declared a truce?

One of the most challenging research questions right now in the arena of workplace flexibility is why there is such a big gap between organizational policies which permit flexibility, and the percentage of employees who take advantage of such policies. For instance, paternity leave. Very few men take it, even though there are several different options other than a six- or eight-week leave, typically unpaid, just after a baby is born.

I wonder what dads really say to each other about balancing work, family, and personal interests. Do they discuss it with each other, the way stay-at-home moms do at playgroups (wishing they had time to join a book club or get exercise more regularly) and the way that employed moms do at lunches (wishing they didn't have to rush home to relieve the nanny or make dinner, or that they could take a vacation without kids)?

Case and Western Reserve

According to President Eastwood's latest letter to alumni and the campus community, the Trustees have recommended that the 2003 innovation in the university's logo be updated again.

I wonder if the projections of the $10.5 million deficit include the costs for new business cards and letterhead, or if those costs will be assumed in the following fiscal year?

As a graduate of the last class of Western Reserve undergraduates (in 1991), I am pleased to see the recognition of Western Reserve as well as Case in the university's history and traditions. As a pragmatist, though, I hope we are not going to lose the benefits of increased name recognition that came with the new branding campaigns and especially with our hosting of the Vice-Presidential debate. We have continued to draw increasing numbers of applications (my understanding is that we are only about 5% behind last year's record-setting numbers), and I believe that significantly benefits the university. The branding campaign is not the only cause of those increased numbers, but it contributed.

I recognize the tradeoff with alumni donations from Western Reserve alumni, and I am not surprised that the trustees have elected to backtrack a bit given how hot the issue of the campus logo has become. Still, I hope it doesn't cost us too much, in terms of dollars or other intangibles.