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Anne Zimmerman

Anne Zimmerman

December 18, 2014

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Make Your Own Schedule

It’s 8:30 a.m. and you’re stuck in traffic. Again. Your car is guzzling extra gallons of pricey gas and you arrive at work stressed out and late for your 9 o’clock meeting. Even better, you’ll get to do it all again tonight as you try to get back home, and then again in the morning as you return to work. It seems like there has to be a better way, and maybe there is: The Alternative Work Week. The concept takes your average 9 to 5 job and turns it upside down. Yes, you’ll still work 40 hours a week. But when you arrive, when you leave, and how long you stay can vary wildly. Here, a few tips to getting the go-ahead for an alternative schedule and making it work for you.

Tailor your schedule. You could arrive at work at 7:30 and be done by 3:30 and still have plenty of time for a long run or a play date with your niece. Or, you could arrive late and leave late if you aren’t a morning person or your job demands a round-the-clock employee presence. Other unique ideas include working four 10-hour days, or working in the office four days a week and from home on the fifth. All are interesting options that ideally allow you to work and play on your own schedule.

Take stock of your duties. Unfortunately, not everyone has a job with lots of flexibility. Before suggesting an alternative schedule, it’s important to review all of the facets of your job and determine if it is really feasible. If you work alone all day, it may not matter when you arrive and leave, as long as you get your work done. However, if your day is made up of lots of meetings or you work with a team, not being around when important decisions are made could be seriously detrimental.

Check out your office culture. Before you bring up alternative schedules, get a closer read on your workplace environment. How flexible has management been with the schedules of the people you work with? If your office is a conservative, nose-to-the-grindstone kind of place, an alternative work schedule might be frowned upon. But if your office is filled with co-workers who commute to work by bike and occasionally arrive and leave early to accommodate outside plans, your chances are looking good. Hopefully management will be receptive to an alternative schedule that keeps you productive and happy.

Accept defeat—for now. If your boss ixnays an alternative schedule, don’t argue over the decision. After all, working 9 to 5, five days a week is the norm. But if your commute or workplace is really sucking the life out of you, perhaps it is time to consider moving on. And if it isn’t quite time for that, a carpooling buddy can take a small bite out of the gas bill and make the commute just a little more fun.