The New Economics Foundation has just released a report stating that we should move towards a 21 hour work week. ”Fantastic” is the buzz on Facebook, after all, who wants to work any more than they need to and 20 hours sounds like plenty. The report is interesting and does include a little on how we might transition to this way of working. At first I had all kinds of “but, but, but” thoughts in my head, now though, I’m coming to see a way through the quagmire. You see, my work is something that doesn’t really translate into a part time job AND I’m going to have to do it in conjunction (to some extent) with my other job as a mum….. which is something all of us parents have to do.
The other day I wrote about starting to look for a job and how to write a parenting CV. As I’ve been ringing round recruiters in my field (IT), the word on the street is that I’ll have to go back full time, at least at first. To be honest, this comes as absolutely no surprise whatsoever. Projects are usually short term and it’s all hands on deck to get things done in the time allocated (they rarely come in on time or to budget, but that’s a whole other story). A shorter working week is sometimes achievable by working at home for a bit of the week or occasionally once you’ve made yourself an invaluable part of a team by negotiating shorter hours…. but you have to prove yourself first. So, how would the 21 hour week work in practice? I don’t see employers introducing much flexibility when it comes to employment options. They’re certainly not falling over themselves to fit into the working mum or dad’s lives. I think there is an alternative and it’s one which might work very well for parents, indeed it’s one which is already in operation to some extent in some parts of Europe.
Have you ever set out on holiday to France during the first weekend of August? How long did you sit in traffic going round the peripherique? a few hours, half a day, 24 hours…. I’d hazard a well educated guess that you’d spend a good half day at least, just getting past Paris. You see, most of the French (unless you’re in the holiday trade) take their summer holidays in August – and many people have the whole of August off. This is partly because of the weather (too hot to work…. oh that we could rely on that here!) and partly because in industry it often makes sense to shut down a factory for an extended period rather than run it on reduced output for the same period.
One of my options in the workplace is contracting. This will mean intensive bouts of work where I might sometimes be away from home and/or working all hours that god gives to see deadlines reached BUT it might also mean that I’ll be able to take the summer off. We don’t have any family childcare so it’ll mean rejigging the way the whole family works….. but again, that’s a whole other post too. Contracting is currently only available to people in some jobs and clearly there are some jobs for which it won’t work at all and others where it might work for some people. Mostly, people on contracts earn more per day/month/year than their equivalents in full time permanent employment. This is to account for the instability of the job and the cost of doing it (most contractors are self employed).
Many of us mums work this way already…. we call it freelancing, and the blogosphere is a prime example of a place where freelancing can work very well. There’s also an option in blogland to make your blog earn a bit for you – using adsense, affiliate marketing, writing ebooks, running courses and the like. Once we’ve learnt a bit about blogging then perhaps we stand a chance of setting up separate money making blogs or perhaps we become well enough known to be asked to do paid work for blogging networks and so on….. see Mammasaurus’s blog for a bit of discussion on whether and how bloggers might be paid. The bottom line though is that if we’re wanting to make money out of blogging you have to be inventive in the ways you do it…. it’s possible, but it’s not an easy option.
I reckon the future’s bright, the future’s varied ….. if we want it to be, and if we make it that way. I’m excited about my job hunting/job creation in 2012…. and I’ll keep you posted on how I get on. Ideally I’ll be working a 20 hour week, but it might be that I do bouts of intensive work over the year and then take the summer off…. ideal! A 20 hour average would suit me fine
Find the first in my Job Hunt series at Job Hunt I – A parenting CV