Your flexible friend

Well, I thought I was going to have a struggle. I even met with my union rep at one point, but I’m pleased to announce that it’s nearly here: I’m poised to start reduced hours at work.

This means I’ll work 30 hours over a five day week. Coincidentally, this works out at six hours a day, which is the legal maximum for working without a break. I’ll still be in work five days a week, so won’t lose any annual leave and I’ll still have the social contact with fellow workers that a part-timer wouldn’t.

On an uneventful day, this means I can start work at 9am, as usual, but leave at 3pm. Working for an organisation that values work/life balance also means we can throw flexi-time into the mix as well. So on a good day I can do a 9 to 5 and on a rubbish day I can leave at noon if I want to.

It’s an ideal arrangement for a disease like MS.

It’s also ideal for numerous other reasons: I can plan in the kids’ sports days and concerts. I can water my allotment before I go to work. I can pick the kids up from school as well as the usual drop-off. On days when I’m feeling groggy, I can sit in my kitchen and pump strong black coffee into my system before deciding whether I can face the journey into work. On snowy days (I live in a hilly semi-rural part of the country) I can let the morning rush die-down while I decide whether to risk the roads.

My kids will see more of me. I’ll be less grumpy and more lively in the evenings and weekends and just generally happier and more willing to do things requiring energy.

My wife is very supportive My family and friends think it’s a great idea. My GP thinks it’s a great idea. When I told my MS nurse she beamed at me and said “oh good!” When I mentioned it to other part-timers at work they cheered, like I’d joined their team.

It all sounds so good, doesn’t it? I will obviously benefit, my kids will benefit and my employer will benefit. My productivity is likely to increase as I won’t feel as crap and I won’t be sitting at my desk wondering what I’m doing there.

There is, however, one major stumbling block.

It’s not the admin and the sorting out of start dates. It’s not the attitude of fellow workers who seem broadly supportive (one of my co-workers, who has ME already does this), but it’s a psychological one.

The amount of money I’m about to lose per month seems like a high price to pay for an increase in flexibility, no matter how rubbish work sometimes makes me feel. I know we’re not on the breadline, but it does seem awfully selfish and no matter how you look at it, the money I’m about to lose would pay for a very good family holiday every year.

I’m mentally storing up the reasons why I should do it. I think the best argument I’ve thought of so far is: would I accept the same amount of money to work an extra one and a half hours per day, making it nine and a half hours in work every day.

The answer’s a resounding “no”

Please feel free to post other good reasons, or things I can do with the extra two hours of me-time I’ll have each day (the dafter the suggestion, the better).



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