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Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Sorta Stay at Home Dad 

Well, today, Celeste is four months old and it's a day full of adventure. Evelin is back to work, and I'm time-shifting my workday to help keep an eye on her. Evelin's office is really great; they're letting her go to half time (which is long enough to get the much better health insurance that her place offers) and she only has to be in the office 10 hours a week. The rest of the work she can do from home.

Those 10 hours, however, is where I come in. Long, long ago, we figured I could talk my employer into a four-day workweek or something, but with becoming editorial director, I need to have a presence in the office everyday (at least that's the feeling from upstairs). So, I am instead time-shifting my workday twice a week from the normal 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (although I never seem to get out of there by then) to 4 a.m. to noon.

I am generally a morning person, so the getting up early doesn't worry me, plus I can get more done without the knock-on-the-door distractions and it effectively puts me on the same time zone as our Italian office and my editor in Paris. This later benefit, I thought, was a good selling point to the plan, but this morning at least it conflicted with the "get more work done" objective. I had more back-and-forth e-mails from Italy today than I think I had all November and December combined.

So far (and this is sure to jinx things), she’s being very easy. Her noontime nap usually lasts only a half hour, but right now she's headed toward two hours. I don't know if she's just trying to be nice to me, or if she's setting me up for a rough stretch that will last until Evelin makes it home.

It's a mix of excitement and anticipation with a soupçon of dread, but hopefully the swings in my workday won't prove too demanding in the long run (and maybe Evelin's mom can coincide a visit or two when I have business trips so we don't have to figure out a different solution for those weeks).

Blogger Commenting:
Yikes, Carter, that doesn't sound like fun. As a fellow editor - though one thankfully without European offices to worry about - I'm really nervous about how I would (and whether I'd want to) do my job post-hypothetical-baby. I've convinced myself they'd allow me the four-day week... but as editor-in-chief, I wonder if that'd be possible. Let's just cross our fingers that I'll have lots of questions to run by you in a few months...
I think a lot depends on the culture of the company. My place has a mixed track record: There have been sometimes when things have been allowed to work out but other times when (what I think are) fairly stubborn roadblocks have been put in the way of flexible work schedules.

The Euro office was my big pro arugement; the big con was the editorial director gig. I actually think trying to do a four-day week would be more practical, but that wouldn't fly.

Plus, most editors can probably do at least a chunk of their job remotely via e-mail and telephone. I telecommuted from Massachusetts for nearly two years while Evelin did her master's work, and I think it was a more productive setup than working in the main office...

But whenever you have questions, please feel free to bounce around some ideas...
Sometimes companies get so stuck in "this is how it's always been done"... it's a shame. I actually already work from home when I have a big story to do -- no door, not even a private office -- I'm much more productive than when trying to write with a million interruptions. So there's at least a little bit of precedent in my case.
Yeah, that "that's how it's always been done" thing is a killer (and I've fallen into that trap when trying to deal with some situations, too, but I'm trying to find flexibility for my people when and where I can), but your having that precident of at least some working from home is a good thing. If other people have been able to negotiate some sort of flex week, that can be a boon to your arguements, too...
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