Alternatives to the 12 hour day

The AFR, once again, has an article reflecting my current obsessions in Corporate Woman. The headline; “it’s time to find alternatives to the 12-hour day” says it all really. It’s an extended quote from Lynn Wood, a successful executive who is now a corporate director with a “portfolio career” reflecting her desire to explore alternatives to the 12 hour day for people wanting senior roles.

“Why can’t we design flexible full-time jobs for men  and women? And cutting down the core hours to eight a day – would there be more women aspirants to senior roles?” Redesigning full-time jobs is a topic she would like to see added to the corporate agenda very soon…Wood recognises that some corporate cultures are structured to reinforce a long hours mentality. She believes it’s time to think of ways to change these norms.

None of what is said is particularly earthshattering. Nor does it give any particularly useful solutions as to how businesses can change their culture to allow flexibility (something that isn’t as easy as waving your hands and around and paying lip-service, as I know from watching a few employers try). But the more articles like this appear in serious business publications (as opposed to feminist journals) the more chance there is of the world actually changing.

And demographics are starting to be on our side. In Australia, at least, the number of people projected to join the work force in the next 20 years is rapidly diminishing. Business will have to start genuinely valuing the talents of all workers, including those who have a life outside their work, and redesigning the workplace to make them welcome. Otherwise, they won’t have enough workers.

Last word to Wood:

“Organisations that take the initiative in redesigning jobs will steal a march on their competitors.”

  2 comments for “Alternatives to the 12 hour day

  1. September 3, 2006 at 8:17 am

    Last year, I lost my job solely for having a baby. My employers had found a loophole in employment law. I wasn’t employed in the corporate sector but I know I have the kind of skills Australia needs. My job was the kind where I was expected to be flexible but the flexibility didn’t cut both ways. I feel as if I’ve been barred from the workforce now. It would be so difficult for me to go back to work in the near future due to lack of childcare and lack of employer flexibility. I am banging my head off a brick wall. Australia badly needs to redesign the workplace to make it fairer to women in all types of jobs but John Howard is taking things in the opposite direction.

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