Flextime for engineering: perils and positives

Inspired by a recent CFO article on flextime perils, I thought about flextime positives and negatives I have seen as a rising-star computer/electrical engineer.

The obvious positives for the employee include those with family responsibilities (children, elderly/dependent relatives), distant home/long commute, getting college/graduate degree while working, etc. The positives for the employer are the ability to trade off increased compensation while retaining less-stressed key talent.

The negatives for the employee include loss of facetime–this is perhaps one of the most important losses. Even big achievements trumpeted on the company website don’t make up for the loss of connections built being head-down in the trenches. From D.C. I see unbreakable bonds built across generations, gender and other groupings as advocacy and legislative workers support legislation in federal and home districts. The negatives for the employer are again obvious–difficulty in tracking varying hours, keeping effort levels equitable without babysitting.

The federal government is an advocate of telecommuting for their own workforce, reducing the crunch on expensive federal office space. Some federal jobs are especially good fits for telecommuting. For research positions in STEM fields, having a “research day” one day a week is a good thing for high-performing employees. That day of not fighting traffic and working at a set-aside area in the home can get your brain into a different gear–hopefully overdrive where you think of something new.

For me my research day was Sunday, because the rest of the time I worked and went to school. Eventually I had to cut back on work because I needed the mindspace to focus on the academics and study with peers. Work + school is another article.

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