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#1 of 17 Old 10-04-2010, 05:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I just don't understand companies. Why do so many of them talk up their family friendly policies, how much they care about work/life balance, and then not let employees actually use those policies?! When I interviewed one of my to-be coworkers told me about how they have a lot of families and yes, people worked from home. When I was hired I looked at the policies and they have a lot of good things in place. When I was near the end of my pregnancy I was encouraged to work from home, so that was nice. Now, I've shifted my hours to an earlier start (which benefits my department) and I requested to work from home in certain situations. I was denied the work from home (by hr not my boss) and told I should be grateful about being able to switch my hours! I was told that others in my situation didn't/couldn't work from home so I couldn't either!

For the record, there is absolutely no reason I can't do my job from home. This just makes me so angry! They want these great looking policies but don't want to put them into practice. It was similar with my last company. When I was hired I was told I would be able to work from home, but I finally quit a year later when they just kept telling me they couldn't let me work from home until everyone could because *it wouldn't be fair*. Like we're in kindergarten or something? (There were other reasons I quit as well, not that just.)

Anyway. /rant

Loving mama to Aden (8/5/2010) and DSD (15).
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#2 of 17 Old 10-06-2010, 07:29 AM
 
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Interesting that an hr rep would make that "fairness" claim. If anyone should understand the issues of individuals that make it impossible to treat everyone the same, it should be hr.

My director of hr has about the opposite attitude--that is to say, companies generally know who needs close supervision/management, whose communication skills support working from home, who is more productive under various circumstances, and what motivates various people.

To me, the argument of "fairness" should also then mean that everyone working in a given position receives the exact same compensation--money, benefits, vacation time, etc. We know that's not fair. Some have worked longer, some have been more productive, taken on greater responsibilities. I consider my flexibility a benefit, i.e., part of my compensation.

I was also willing to sacrifice for it. I wonder whether your company just doesn't want to deal with each individual as intensively as they might have to if the go to work from home on a case by case basis. It's more work for hr to administer these policies. It's a lot easier to just say, "No. You have to do your work here."

In fact, for some projects, our office sends people home with laptops to so that they can work uninterrupted when it's a very large project and/or hot deadline. It's accepted that you can get more done at your kitchen table than in your cubicle. (Does not apply when the kids are home, of course.)
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#3 of 17 Old 10-08-2010, 02:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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1jooj - I thought it odd too. HR is supposed to be an advocate for the employees. I've been learning though that our HR person doesn't actually do anything. And that is besides the point now, as I've realized that it *isn't* HR denying the request. Apparently she (boss) could tell I was dissatisfied about the answer because we had a meeting with HR a couple days ago. Where we brainstormed ideas for how I could manage my daycare hours when DP is out of town (as if I hadn't done all that first). I was asked about friends and family. If I had someone available that'd be great, but I don't and I don't really need management giving me these obvious ideas. The final suggestion was that I might need to have a couple babysitters on call who could pick up DS in a pinch. Um, really?? 1. I don't have the $ for a babysitter, even if DP and I wanted to go out for a few hours. 2. How would I get to know/trust a babysitter to pick up DS from daycare if I'm never using one? 3. DS is 2 months old. That means he's in an infant car seat. I'm supposed to call up random sitters to pick him up WITHOUT A CAR SEAT?! Also during this meeting my boss tells me that she doesn't think people are as productive at home. OK, I understand that. AND she tells me that when I was hired the position was a full time in office position. What?! Nothing was said about it either way. The final straw? I was told several times (by her and HR) that she had been more than flexible with me previously working from home when I had a medical problem (I used that one 2 days out of 4 - 6 months of pain specifically because our team is too small to handle the high workload we have), end of pregnancy (when I was encouraged/pushed to do so), and with my flex hours (which are better for the dept). They made it sound like I was being ungrateful.

Oh gods I'm so angry right now. Because today she threw in my face that she gave me a free vacation day (which I was grateful for but did not ask for) because she had told me my return to work day was a day earlier than it was. Now I'm going back full time 2 days early because of it. I'm not going to put any other details, just suffice to say that the tone of the email was "because I'm the boss and I said so". It was sooooo b****y, I didn't document/formalize any of the return to work arrangements because at that point I thought she was the type of boss to care about and take care of her team. I didn't realize everything she did was being marked for future reference.

Ugh. I'm so glad I have a place to vent. Please send me good vibes for a quick job search.

Loving mama to Aden (8/5/2010) and DSD (15).
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#4 of 17 Old 10-08-2010, 03:21 PM
 
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1jooj - I thought it odd too. HR is supposed to be an advocate for the employees. I've been learning though that our HR person doesn't actually do anything. And that is besides the point now, as I've realized that it *isn't* HR denying the request. Apparently she (boss) could tell I was dissatisfied about the answer because we had a meeting with HR a couple days ago. Where we brainstormed ideas for how I could manage my daycare hours when DP is out of town (as if I hadn't done all that first). I was asked about friends and family. If I had someone available that'd be great, but I don't and I don't really need management giving me these obvious ideas. The final suggestion was that I might need to have a couple babysitters on call who could pick up DS in a pinch. Um, really?? 1. I don't have the $ for a babysitter, even if DP and I wanted to go out for a few hours. 2. How would I get to know/trust a babysitter to pick up DS from daycare if I'm never using one? 3. DS is 2 months old. That means he's in an infant car seat. I'm supposed to call up random sitters to pick him up WITHOUT A CAR SEAT?! Also during this meeting my boss tells me that she doesn't think people are as productive at home. OK, I understand that. AND she tells me that when I was hired the position was a full time in office position. What?! Nothing was said about it either way. The final straw? I was told several times (by her and HR) that she had been more than flexible with me previously working from home when I had a medical problem (I used that one 2 days out of 4 - 6 months of pain specifically because our team is too small to handle the high workload we have), end of pregnancy (when I was encouraged/pushed to do so), and with my flex hours (which are better for the dept). They made it sound like I was being ungrateful.

Oh gods I'm so angry right now. Because today she threw in my face that she gave me a free vacation day (which I was grateful for but did not ask for) because she had told me my return to work day was a day earlier than it was. Now I'm going back full time 2 days early because of it. I'm not going to put any other details, just suffice to say that the tone of the email was "because I'm the boss and I said so". It was sooooo b****y, I didn't document/formalize any of the return to work arrangements because at that point I thought she was the type of boss to care about and take care of her team. I didn't realize everything she did was being marked for future reference.

Ugh. I'm so glad I have a place to vent. Please send me good vibes for a quick job search.
No no no don't make this mistake. HR is supposed to protect the company from being sued and help them reduce costs. When they are 'helping' the employee they mean keeping employees productive so they don't have the costs of recruiting/training, etc.

It doesn't mean HR can't be your friend too but don't be confused!

It is really hard about your boss not being supportive. I could rant on but mostly just s

~ Mum to Emily, March 12-16 2004, Noah, born Aug 2005, Liam, born January 2011, and wife to Carl since 1994. ~
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#5 of 17 Old 10-08-2010, 03:34 PM
 
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I feel your pain. I've never been in the position to work from home, but I've had plenty of issues with other situations. Every year, Working Mother Magazine names my company one of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers....and at the top of the list is the claim that they provide flexible/un-tradition schedules to work with a mother's schedule. In my 11 yrs of experience, that has meant "We're a 24/7 operation, so you're going to have to work a jacked up schedule so you'll never see your husband or school-age kids. You're Welcome."

Eleven years and I can FINALLY see a "normal" schedule on the horizon (providing I don't change positions or departments )



Don't get me wrong, there ARE advantages...decent PTO & maternity leave, interesting work....but, damn, this schedule is killing me.

---Jessica---Livin' my life from A Peace.gif(1/05 ) to Z  jammin.gif(4/08 ).....and z babyf.gif(3/11)

 

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#6 of 17 Old 10-08-2010, 03:37 PM
 
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I feel your pain. I've never been in the position to work from home, but I've had plenty of issues with other situations. Every year, Working Mother Magazine names my company one of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers....and at the top of the list is the claim that they provide flexible/un-tradition schedules to work with a mother's schedule. In my 11 yrs of experience, that has meant "We're a 24/7 operation, so you're going to have to work a jacked up schedule so you'll never see your husband or school-age kids. You're Welcome."

Eleven years and I can FINALLY see a "normal" schedule on the horizon (providing I don't change positions or departments )



Don't get me wrong, there ARE advantages...decent PTO & maternity leave, interesting work....but, damn, this schedule is killing me.
I don't suppose your company has a medium blue logo?

~ Mum to Emily, March 12-16 2004, Noah, born Aug 2005, Liam, born January 2011, and wife to Carl since 1994. ~
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#7 of 17 Old 10-08-2010, 03:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I feel your pain. I've never been in the position to work from home, but I've had plenty of issues with other situations. Every year, Working Mother Magazine names my company one of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers....
This is what makes me crazy. I choose my current company over a different one because of these types of benefits - only to find I can't use them! And I've been using that list to target companies looking for a new job, worried the whole time that the same thing will happen again. I hate switching jobs. I just want to find a company that I can really work hard for that actually deserves how hard I will work!

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#8 of 17 Old 10-08-2010, 04:15 PM
 
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GuildJenn is right, though. HR is there to ensure that your employer is protected through compliance with the law. A good HR person can do so much more, improving productivity and quality of life for everyone, but their first job is regulatory compliance and protecting your employer.

From that perspective, HR might recommend flex as a way to pay lower salaries--as in my example. I am a low-cost employee, even though my wage is competitive. Why? I only get paid for hours worked, and I don't put in hours unless there is productive (usually billable) work to be done. Online shopping is never on the clock.

That said, we went through all the hoops of formal, written proposals in order to (once again) ensure the change in my status was in compliance with laws. People may perceive my treatment as preferential; I'm quick to let them know that my wages are pocket money compared with their salaries. There are trade-offs.

But the babysitter and car seat details are important for them to know. Most people not directly in the new-baby life don't consider the logistics. As you think of points, jot them down. It can help you be clear, calm and rational if the conversation continues.
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#9 of 17 Old 10-08-2010, 04:16 PM
 
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My firm has a good flex-time/work-balance program (with flex-pay), but one lesson that I have learned is that I have to be very proactive about using it. The first hurdle was my relationship with my boss. He is great, but at the very beginning I had to define my limitations very clearly. I also had to couple these limitations with the promise that if I am needed, I will make every effort possible to make sure the work gets done. In fact, I was involved in a mediation last week that I knew would require some long hours. About a week before the mediation, I told him that I could make myself available but I would have to know in advance to make arrangements between my DH and myself regarding DD. It worked out beautifully. As long as I define what I need to do at the outset, I never have a problem. Even when certain issues pop up that need to be addressed immediately, he is aware of my limitations and we try to work around them. In the beginning it was hard for me to be super aggressive about my limitations, but I found that honesty and and clearly defined expectations work much better (for me) than the expectation that I have an automatic right to flexibility just because the firm permits it.

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#10 of 17 Old 10-08-2010, 04:17 PM
 
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I don't suppose your company has a medium blue logo?
LOL. Actually, no.

---Jessica---Livin' my life from A Peace.gif(1/05 ) to Z  jammin.gif(4/08 ).....and z babyf.gif(3/11)

 

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#11 of 17 Old 10-08-2010, 04:19 PM
 
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LOL. Actually, no.
That makes TWO on that list then.

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#12 of 17 Old 10-08-2010, 04:43 PM
 
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I actually think this is somewhat common. Unfortunately. I have been present in several interviews (as an interviewer) where another representative from my company will talk about the variety in our workbase, our company's flex time, and ability to work from home.

What this sounds like to a potential employee? O, wow, lots of flexibility for someone with kids and options on when I can work and where I can work.

What my company's policies really amount to? If you want to do EXTRA work during the weekend or off-hours, we'll do everything we can to help you do that from home. And if you want to work 8-4 or 10-6, that's cool, that's cool. But no, you can't do your job from home (even if it's entirely feasible). And if you want hours that vary greatly from 'core business hours,' that's not going to work out for us either.

I'm not sure why people feel like they need to slightly misrepresent this, but I've seen it happen. And it is unfortunate. I'm not sure it's always intentional--a lot of managers actually seem to "feel" they are flexible about their employee's time even when they aren't.

I do agree with what others have said--sometimes being firm/pro-active about asking for something, even if you acknowledge that what you're asking for is not available to everyone at your company, seems to work. But I think it works best if you have some bargaining power and they need you more than you need them. What else is new?

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#13 of 17 Old 10-08-2010, 04:59 PM
 
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I do agree with what others have said--sometimes being firm/pro-active about asking for something, even if you acknowledge that what you're asking for is not available to everyone at your company, seems to work. But I think it works best if you have some bargaining power and they need you more than you need them. What else is new?
I agree with that to an extent. I also think a lot of it is dependent on firm/workplace culture and/or the type of business it is. If the workplace culture is centered around face-time, then I think it would be a lot harder to actually implement flextime. I also think there are certain types of work that lend themselves more readily to flextime. I know for me that 80% of my work can be done anywhere (that is why it is so hard for me to get any real vacation!). But my DH's position requires a lot of interface with the public, so his line of work is not as compatible with flextime as mine.

Regarding bargaining power and my boss needing me more than I need him...well...sometimes I think that he is just too comfortable with the status quo. He probably knows that I'm one of the few that can put up with him!

"Lawyers, I suppose, were children once." Charles Lamb.
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#14 of 17 Old 10-08-2010, 05:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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In all honesty, I thought this would be a win-win situation. When DP is traveling it is not possible for me to get to work on time after dropping off DS. While I am fully aware this is not their problem, and I am responsible for figuring it out, this seemed like a great solution. I wasn't asking for a regular 3 days from home (I already knew from casual conversation they don't want a 'regular' work from home situation), just for when I am solely responsible for DS. And DPs trips are almost never last minute. The reality is that I'm going to be short on hours those days. In the meeting I even offered to make up those hours at night or on weekends - again, from home. The reply was "oh, you don't want to spend your weekends working". So, despite what I've been led to believe from her previous actions and from other people in my company working outside the office, she's pretty adamantly against it. I guess at some point I will probably get marks on my record for coming in late.

I do know that HR is responsible for the company, but we have all these policies already. I don't want them to pay for my internet, etc. I just want a little flexibility. I'm expected to stay late or come in early or skip lunch when things happen (as are most salaried people), I just wish it worked both ways.

That said, we are checking into the 1 other daycare we've been able to find that suits our situation. And I've started exercising in earnest so I can fit into my interview suits.

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#15 of 17 Old 10-09-2010, 11:17 AM
 
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That makes TWO on that list then.
Three on this list - unless you and I work at the same company.

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What my company's policies really amount to? If you want to do EXTRA work during the weekend or off-hours, we'll do everything we can to help you do that from home. And if you want to work 8-4 or 10-6, that's cool, that's cool. But no, you can't do your job from home (even if it's entirely feasible). And if you want hours that vary greatly from 'core business hours,' that's not going to work out for us either.

Right on. My company spews this line too - until you wind up working with a team in India, Shanghai, Israel, or anywhere else and you are stuck having meetings on an international schedule. Try making dinner for your family and putting your 2 year old to bed when you are stuck in a meeting room until 6 or 6:30pm on conference call with Shanghai, four nights a week.

And at our place - many times it's not a choice to work evenings and weekends. I worked a full weekend two weekends ago and I'm on call this weekend - 60 hours a week is just not family friendly.

I told my boss this when I informed him I was dropping a task I find unpleasant, time consuming, and pointless so that I wouldn't be working myself into the ground. He commisserated, said he recommends a 40-45 hour week, but told me to do all my tasks anyway otherwise I wouldn't get promoted and I wouldn't want that. I told him I'd gladly forego a promotion if it meant a restful weekend with my family. Unfortunately, at my company it is up or out so I'd only have 2-3 years before I was managed out in my current role.
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#16 of 17 Old 10-10-2010, 03:09 PM
 
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1jooj - Also during this meeting my boss tells me that she doesn't think people are as productive at home.
Totally untrue. After some adjustment it is absolutely possible to make things work.

I am so sorry that you are going through this. It just irks me to NO END when I see mothers writing about having to balance caring for their BABY with the idiotic reasoning of their employer.

Their argument that it wouldn't be "fair" for other employees is just the wrong way to look at things; instead they should be trying to figure out how to extend workplace flexibility benefits to everyone.

"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer"
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#17 of 17 Old 10-10-2010, 10:07 PM
 
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It has been my experience that the people benefitting from work/life balance are the supervisors and the higher paid employees or CEOs because they can already set their own hours anyway. People who already have options get this options and advantage.

However, if you state the priorities as early as possible it can be worked out. Companies prefer this be an advantage to them...i.e. not paying for the parking, maybe no office set up so you can set up at home, etc.

I would think that someone dedicated enough to work at home would get alot of credit.....however, that has to be determined by the company.

Good luck. I see this as frustrating too, because if I take my work home with me...that does not cut back on hours I have to spend at work...

so I never take work home because I have plenty at home to do for my family and if I am not being compensated I refuse to do it....that also includes working weekends.
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